Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

New veterans cemetery proposed for NW Minnesota under bill that advances in House

An estimated 10,000 veterans and their families live within 75 miles of Bemidji, but the nearest state veterans cemetery is more than 100 miles away in Little Falls.

Minnesota operates four such cemeteries, and HF4336, sponsored by Rep. Matt Bliss (R-Pennington), would authorize the initial steps for a fifth to serve northwestern Minnesota.

The House Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee approved the bill Monday and referred it to the House Capital Investment Committee.

The goal of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is to provide 95% of veterans a dignified burial option within 75 miles of their home. With state cemeteries in Little Falls, Duluth, Preston and Redwood Falls, along with Fort Snelling National Cemetery and a federal cemetery in Fargo, there is a gap in northwestern Minnesota.

The bill would begin the process of closing it.

“What we’re seeking now is simply the permission to move forward and start to scope out a new and final fifth state veterans cemetery in northwestern Minnesota which we believe will end up in the Bemidji area,” said Andrew Garvais, director of veterans programs and memorial affairs at the state Department of Veterans Affairs.

Garvais said the bill would allow the agency to begin talking with state and local partners to identify potential sites, conduct testing such as collection of soil samples, and do other due diligence before returning to the Legislature with further details and recommendations.

Further steps would then involve an application process to the National Cemetery Administration which he said would provide grant money to build the facility.

The state had only one veterans cemetery, in Little Falls, when the Legislature authorized the department in 2009 to develop projects for additional cemeteries. The cemetery in Preston opened in 2015, Duluth opened in 2018 and the Redwood Falls cemetery opened last August.

Related Articles

Priority Dailies

Ways and Means Committee OKs proposed $512 million supplemental budget on party-line vote
(House Photography file photo) Meeting more needs or fiscal irresponsibility is one way to sum up the differences among the two parties on a supplemental spending package a year after a $72 billion state budg...
Minnesota’s projected budget surplus balloons to $3.7 billion, but fiscal pressure still looms
(House Photography file photo) Just as Minnesota has experienced a warmer winter than usual, so has the state’s budget outlook warmed over the past few months. On Thursday, Minnesota Management and Budget...

Minnesota House on Twitter