Tallahassee, Florida - Florida will soon be home to two new national cemeteries.
The state will get two of five new national cemeteries scheduled for construction across the country in the next few years. It's part of the largest expansion of cemeteries in the U.S. since the Civil War.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will build one on 250 acres in Tallahassee. The other will take shape on more than 300 acres in Brevard County. When they're completed, Florida will have nine national cemeteries.
The VA has been studying where the largest veterans populations are located around the country. The Sunshine State is home to about 1.6 million veterans.
Florida's new national cemeteries will be located within 75 miles of 250,000 veterans.
Glenn Madderom of the National Cemetery Administration says the agency is trying to meet increasing demand for VA burials.
"These veterans have earned the right for burial in a national cemetery through their service in the armed forces and we want to make sure that as many veterans as possible across the country have a burial option available within 75 miles of where they live."
The VA provides honorably discharged veterans, spouses and dependents with free burials in national cemeteries.
"Once they come through the main gates of that cemetery, the burial, the vault container, the headstone, all of that is provided by the VA and that's part of the benefit that these veterans have earned through their service to our country," said Madderom.
It will take about a year to design the cemeteries in Tallahassee and Brevard County. Construction is expected to last another two years.
Congress has not yet set the budget for the new cemeteries. Madderom expects each one to cost between $10 million and $25 million.
The other three national cemeteries will be built in Nebraska, western New York and southern Colorado.
The National Cemetery Administration maintains three million gravesites at 131 national cemeteries in 39 states and Puerto Rico.
Get more information VA burial benefits at www.cem.va.gov or call 1-800-827-1000.