, DC — Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki has announced a $22.9 million construction contract to develop another section of Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Ill. for local Veterans.
"Expanding this cemetery ensures Illinois Veterans will continue to receive the benefits they earned," said Secretary Shinseki. "With this expansion we are honoring our commitment to maintain this national shrine as a
lasting tribute to the men and women who served our nation."
VA awarded the contract to Kepa Services, Inc., a service-disabled Veteran-owned small business from Milwaukee, Wis., in the amount of $22,978,000. The project is scheduled for completion in summer 2012.
The expansion will develop 20 acres and support 10 years of projected burials. The project includes approximately 12,122 pre-placed crypts, 325 conventional gravesites, 2,577 cremains burial sites and 6,584 columbarium niches for cremains.
Other improvements to the cemetery will include the main entrance gate, new roadways, parking, signage, an assembly area, committal shelters and accessibility and handicap access. The project also will include walkways, site furnishings, grading, drainage, fencing, landscaping, a utility distribution system and environmental preservation and mitigation.
The public information center and other buildings will receive upgrades to incorporate improvements in energy conservation and environmental design. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, provides a suite of standards for environmentally sustainable
construction, which this cemetery will meet.
Veterans with a discharge issued under conditions other than dishonorable, their spouses and eligible dependent children can be buried in a VA national cemetery. Also eligible are military personnel who die on active duty, their spouses and eligible dependents. Other burial benefits available for all eligible Veterans, regardless of whether they are buried in a national cemetery or a private cemetery, include a burial flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate and a government headstone or marker, or service medallion for a private marker. Families of eligible decedents may also order a memorial
headstone or marker when remains are not available for interment.
In the midst of the largest expansion since the Civil War, VA operates 131 national cemeteries in 39 states and Puerto Rico and 33 soldiers' lots and monument sites. More than 3.5 million Americans, including Veterans of every war and conflict, are buried in VA's national cemeteries on more than 19,000 acres of land.
Information on VA burial benefits can be obtained from national cemetery offices, from the Internet at www.cem.va.gov or by calling VA regional offices toll-free at 800-827-1000. Additional information about the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery is available by calling the cemetery office at 815-423-9958. To make burial arrangements at the time of need at any VA national cemetery, call the national cemetery scheduling office at 800-535-1117.