VA awards Angel Fire $3.2M for veterans cemetery

By Cody Hooks
chooks@taosnews.com
Posted 9/18/18

Angel Fire is already known around the county by veterans of the Vietnam War thanks to the memorial on the edge of town, but an announcement of funding for a veterans cemetery means the Colfax County …

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VA awards Angel Fire $3.2M for veterans cemetery

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Angel Fire is already known around the county by veterans of the Vietnam War thanks to the memorial on the edge of town, but an announcement of funding for a veterans cemetery means the Colfax County village is well on its way to being even more of a hub for veterans and their families.

Gov. Susana Martinez announced Tuesday (Sept. 18) the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has formally approved funding to cover the cost of construction for the State Veterans Cemetery in Angel Fire.

The VA will provide a $3.2 million grant to cover the projected cost of building a 1.3-acre, 400-gravesite cemetery next to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

“We are extremely pleased,” said Chuck Howe, mayor pro tem of Angel Fire and president of the nonprofit behind the memorial who is himself a Vietnam veteran.

“We started it about four years ago and have been going through the process since then. It’s important for New Mexico veterans and their families to have a cemetery close,” he said. The only federal veterans cemetery in New Mexico is located in Santa Fe.

Howe said several families of Vietnam veterans are holding on the ashes of their loved ones specifically so they can be buried at the future cemetery in Angel Fire.

The Angel Fire cemetery will be the third state veterans cemetery coming out of the State Cemetery Initiative launched in 2013, which sought federal funding for the construction of state-run veterans cemeteries. The Ft. Stanton State Veterans Cemetery opened last November and construction on the Gallup State Veterans Cemetery began last October, according to the governor’s office.

Taos County officials tried to get funding for a state-sanctioned veterans cemetery in Taos, though their application was not successful. Still, the county donated 20 acres of land near the end of County Road 110 for a veterans cemetery. There was a ground breaking ceremony for that facility in 2017 and county crews have continued to do some work on the site since then.

Howe said a veterans wellness center is also in the works for Angel Fire and that a national fundraising campaign will soon be underway to raise the money for that project.

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