LeRoy Collins Commentary 141

Commentary #141
10 March 2008

VA Dedicates South Florida Cemetery

This was another one of those occasions where I was honored to represent our Governor, in honoring our Veterans:

Secretary Peake is the first head of the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs to be a physician. Furthermore, he started out as an infantry officer in Vietnam, having graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1966. While in Vietnam, he was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in combat, was wounded twice, came back home, got a medical degree, went back to the Army as a physician, and rose to the rank of Lieutenant General (that is 3 stars!), and retired as the Army's Surgeon General. What a varied, productive and lustrous career!

What a thrill it is to serve alongside American patriots like USDVA Secretary James Peake.

/s/ LeRoy Collins

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Adm Collins with USDVA Secretary Peake

The Palm Beach Post knew you were there.

Regards, Steve R. Steven Murray
Lieutenant Colonel, USAF (Ret)
Communications Director
Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs

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I was there yesterday, on the front row of the stage, but you cannot tell it from this writeup.

The occasion enabled me to meet/greet Secretary Peake, Under Secretary Tuerk, BG Fleming FLAANG, Former Under Secretary Robin Higgins,....among others. Jack McDermott, the current State Commander of VFW, and I had a chance to talk at some length. He said they support us and our DSO.--LC

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South Florida VA National Cemetery Officially Dedicated

New National Shrine Is Tribute to America’s Veterans


WASHINGTON (March 9, 2008) – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) held a dedication ceremony today to officially open VA’s 125th national cemetery, the South Florida VA National Cemetery in Lake Worth.

"We are delighted to celebrate this special day with Florida’s veterans," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake. "By building this national shrine in South Florida, we will provide a final resting place and lasting tribute to the men and women who have faithfully served our nation."

The ceremony, which included remarks by Peake, was attended by Rep. Ron Klein and VA Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs William F. Tuerk. The dedication plaque was unveiled and military honors were performed by a joint service firing detail, ending with the playing of Taps.

The 313-acre site is in Palm Beach County along Route 441 between Lantana Road and Boynton Beach Boulevard. Nearly 400,000 veterans and their families live within the service area of the national cemetery.

Burials began in April 2007 in a 15-acre area that includes 1,708 plots for casketed remains and approximately 4,000 plots for cremated remains.

When the first phase of development is completed, the cemetery will provide 14,000 casket sites, 3,000 columbarium niches and 9,500 in-ground niches.

Construction will include other infrastructure elements, including administration and maintenance buildings, a public assembly area, public information center, roads, water, electricity and two committal shelters.

Veterans with a discharge other than dishonorable, their spouses, and eligible dependent children can be buried in a national cemetery. 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.

In the midst of the largest cemetery expansion since the Civil War, VA operates 125 national cemeteries in 39 states and Puerto Rico and 33 soldiers' lots and monument sites. More than three million Americans, including veterans of every war and conflict, are buried in VA’s national cemeteries on more than 16,000 acres of land.

Information on VA burial benefits can be obtained from national cemetery offices, from the Internet at http://www.cem.va.gov or by calling VA regional offices toll-free at 1-800-827-1000.

For information on the South Florida VA National Cemetery, call the cemetery office at (561) 649-6489.

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/s/ LeRoy Collins, Jr.
www.leroycollins.org


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