LUBBOCK, Texas — Veterans and families of those who have served were honored with a long-awaited groundbreaking for the West Texas State Veterans Cemetery on Friday. For veteran Benny Guerrero, the moment the shovels went into the ground meant years of hard work had paid off.

“We’re crying inside. We’re so proud of this moment because I know it was like catching lightning in a bottle,” Guerrero, the chairman of the Lubbock VFW said.

It also meant thousands of Lubbock veterans wouldn’t have to leave their homes ever again. The new cemetery will be the fifth state veterans cemetery in Texas and will serve more than 21,000 veterans.

The project was led by veterans like Guerrero as well as local, state and federal lawmakers. It was also made possible by more than $15 million in funding from the Department of Veteran Affairs and over $10 million in funding from the Texas General Land Office. According to Guerrero, they began working on the idea of a veteran’s cemetery in Lubbock about a decade ago.

“I can only compare it to winning a battle somewhere or a skirmish out in the battlefield,” Guerrero said. “To win a battle means a lot and this is just a battle. It had to be won.” 

With the new cemetery, veterans like Terence Kovar can not only lay to rest at home, but families of veterans don’t have to worry about driving hours at a time to visit them.

“They don’t have to drive to Abilene to go see you, they get to come right here to Lubbock and see you,” Kovar, who is also a Lubbock County Commissioner, said. 

Like Kovar, many other veterans will need to register themselves at the West Texas State Veterans Cemetery. According to Guerrero, veterans and their eligible family members should go ahead and register. 

Registration can be done through the VA Website under the “burials” tab. He said veterans should register for the Texas State Veterans Cemetery at Abilene and then transfer to the Lubbock Veteran’s Cemetery once the cemetery is finished in the summer of 2025.

Guerrero said the cemetery, which will be complete with a memorial walk and scattering garden, will all be worth it.

“This ensures that those people responsible for our freedoms are laid to rest, that their final resting spot is sacred and always cared for,” Guerrero said.