WASHINGTON–The Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock is slated to receive nearly 140 acres of land as a result of language U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) authored in the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is one step away from becoming law.
NDAA, which invests in our military and authorizes $738 billion in critical national security funding, includes a provision to authorize the transfer of land from Camp Robinson to the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA) for purposes of expanding the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock. The bill has been approved by both chambers of Congress and is expected to be signed into law by President Donald Trump.
“This commonsense solution was a team effort that benefits both the Army Guardandthe Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs. Theland has not been used for training in over two decades and is costly to maintain for the Guard. It will be extremely valuable for the state, which has an urgent need for additional burial space for our veterans. This land transfer will ensure that there is plenty of space to provide an appropriate final resting place for men and women who served in uniform who choose to be laid to rest alongside their fellow veterans,” Boozman said.
The land conveyance will enable continuation of first burials beyond 2045, when the current cemetery is predicted to reach capacity. Rather than developing an additional cemetery in central Arkansas, the land conveyance provides an expansion opportunity which will be a more cost-efficient alternative for ADVA.
“We want to recognize the leadership of the former Adjutant General, Arkansas National Guard Maj. Gen. Mark H. Berry for shepherding this veteran-centered initiative through the ground work for the veterans and families of veterans in Arkansas,” said Nate Todd, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs. “This rightful benefit for veterans would not have been possible without the support of the Arkansas Congressional delegation and our Governor's commitment that Arkansas veterans’ final resting place is a reflection of their service to our nation.”
The language included in NDAA was taken from legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate by Boozman with the support of Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR). A companion bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman French Hill (AR-02) with the support of Arkansas’s House delegation.
The land that will be transferred from Camp Robinson to ADVA has not been used for Army Guard training in over 25 years. The land lies in the flight path of the North Little Rock airport runway, which limits the use of training devices such as artillery simulators, flares and smoke. It is also separated from the main areas of Camp Robinson and has limited access.