The VA has awarded Louisiana a $7.2 million dollar to building a new veterans cemetery in Jennings that’s set to break ground November 1st. Louisiana VA Secretary Joey Strickland says currently, Southwest Louisiana families have to drive at least 80 miles to find the nearest veterans cemetery.

“People want to be buried close to their loved ones without having to drive to the national cemetery in Baton Rouge or in Leesville.”

The grounds will hold 1,212 pre-placed crypts, 185 cremains, and serve nearly 37,600 veterans and their families.

Strickland says the grounds, located just behind the Jennings veteran’s home, will feature a walkway that cuts through the land, landscaping, fountains, and a notable landmark.

“There’s a bell tower that plays religious music, it’s about a 30 foot bell tower that can be seen from a long ways away. It will be solemn, and it will be beautiful.”

Southwest Louisiana has a rich military history, and used to be the site of an airbase in Lake Charles that closed in 1995. Strickland says Louisiana in particular is a magnet for those who’ve served our country in the armed forces.

“we have about 300,000 veterans, which is large number of veterans for a small state.”