First burials at new veterans cemetery possible in December
Construction started March 9 at the 318-acre Cape Canaveral National Cemetery at 5525 N. U.S. 1, about 12 miles north of Titusville and about two miles off Interstate 95’s Exit 231.
The first military veterans’ burials at Cape Canaveral National Cemetery in Scottsmoor could take place as early as December, the cemetery’s new director said.
Construction started March 9 at the 318-acre cemetery at 5525 N. U.S. 1, about 12 miles north of Titusville and about two miles south of Interstate 95’s Exit 231.
Don Murphy, former deputy director for the National Cemetery Administration’s Memorial Programs Service, said Phase One of the cemetery should be completed in 2017, but an area for initial burials should be finished well before that.
“If that stays on schedule, then we’re hoping that we can have first burials as early as December of this year,” he said.
The first phase of construction will provide about 17,000 gravesites and accommodate both caskets and cremation urns, Murphy said. Other features will include a front entrance on U.S. 1, a public information center with an electronic gravesite locator and restrooms, an administration building, a maintenance building, an open assembly area with flag poles, a memorial wall and walkway, and committal shelters for interment away from the gravesite. Infrastructure features will include roads, landscaping, utilities and irrigation.
Flemington, N.J.-based construction company G&C Fabcon was awarded the construction contract for the project, Murphy said. The service-disabled, veteran-owned business specializes in construction of veteran cemeteries.
A groundbreaking and dedication ceremony could take place in August or September, Murphy said.
“We’re pleased that work has begun and so far everything is moving along as planned,” he said.
The cemetery will serve the burial needs of more than 163,000 veterans within a 75-mile radius for the next century. About 80,000 veterans live in Brevard County.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, in the midst of the largest cemetery expansion since the Civil War, purchased the Scottsmoor property, formerly known as Acosta Groves, in July 2012 for $2.1 million. The VA also bought a 250-acre parcel in Leon County for the new Tallahassee National Cemetery.
Scottsmoor was chosen as the cemetery site because the NCA was able to find land that fit the needs and specifications for a national cemetery within the established radius for a new cemetery, based on a re-evaluation of the Florida veteran population and a desire to have a burial option within a 75-mile radius of 95 percent of the veteran population. Similar re-evaluations of veteran populations resulted in the Tallahassee locations as well as new ones planned for western New York, Colorado and Nebraska.
The closest national cemetery to Brevard is in Bushnell, about 120 miles away.
Burial in a national cemetery is open to all members of the armed forces and veterans who have met minimum active duty service requirements and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. Their spouse, widow or widower, minor children and, under certain conditions, unmarried adult children with disabilities, may also be eligible for burial.
Eligible spouses and children may be buried even if they predecease the veteran. Members of the reserve components of the armed forces who die while on active duty or who die while on training duty, or were eligible for retirement pay, may also be eligible for burial.
Burial in a VA national cemetery is a benefit. The VA provides the gravesite, opening and closing of the grave, government headstone or marker, a U.S. burial flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate and perpetual care of the gravesite.