Beaufort-based Chapter 12 of the Disabled American Veterans has raised $10,500 from among its 1,100 members to help another local group of veterans and concerned citizens to secure land for Beaufort National Cemetery.
“Once again, military veterans are stepping up to help each other,” said Ron Voegeli, a Chapter 12 member who also volunteers on the Cemetery Committee.
In a short ceremony at Beaufort National Cemetery Tuesday, DAV Chapter 12 Commander Chris Swan presented a symbolic oversize check to Art Foster, chairman of the Veterans Cemetery Committee of Beaufort. The Cemetery Committee is partnered with the Community Foundation of the Low Country to raise funds to secure the last available property contiguous to the BNC, a five-acre parcel. The Committee calculates the BNC will reach capacity much sooner than the Department of Veterans Affairs has projected, but the Committee hasn’t persuaded the VA that it is essential to purchase this sole remaining piece of adjacent land while it is still available. America’s promise to our military veterans of eternal rest beneath magnolias, live oaks and palmettos is in jeopardy.
“VA officials have dismissed our expansion efforts here in the Lowcountry,” Foster explained. “This is especially perplexing,” he continued, “because nationally, the VA is in the midst of the largest veterans cemetery expansion since the civil war! The VA is aggressively expanding veterans’ cemeteries and acquiring land in Colorado, Florida, Nebraska, Puerto Rico, Wyoming, and elsewhere—why not here in the Lowcountry where we have a grassroots team of volunteers to obtain scarce property and help defray costs?”
The DAV donation to the Committee’s BNC Expansion Fund is the largest single contribution to date. Local veterans are confidant that if the VA were to express an interest in acquiring the land for Beaufort National Cemetery, additional public and private funds will be found to secure the parcel for transfer to the VA.
However, the VA remains uninterested in the property and time is not on the side of the Veterans Cemetery Committee of Beaufort. The land it seeks for BNC is unique. It is contiguous to the National Cemetery and it is available NOW. It could be lost forever to commercial development tomorrow—beyond the reach of federal government officials to fulfill our nation’s pledge to Lowcountry veterans.