LUBBOCK, Texas — On November 3, Texas Land Commissioner Dawn Buckingham announced that the Department of Veterans Affairs awarded the Texas General Land Office and the Texas Veterans Land Board with over $15.9 million dollars to help fund the new West Texas State Veterans Cemetery.
The cemetery will be about 100 acres and will be located on 50th Street, east of the East Loop. The groundbreaking will happen on November 17 and officials said the whole cemetery should be finished and open by late summer of 2025.
The Texas General Land Office had close to $10 million in funding for the veteran cemetery before they were given this funding by VA. The additional funding will allow them to add features such as 510 pre-positioned crypts, 600 columbarium niches and 1,000 inground cremated remains plots.
The Veteran Land Board plans to contribute additional money as well to add even more spaces for those veterans at rest.
According to Benny Guerrero, a veteran himself who helped spearhead the movement to have a cemetery dedicated to veterans in Lubbock, all of this support means a lot to the veterans. In this case, they won’t have to leave their homes or families again.
“We left home to defend our countries and then when we pass, we want to stay within our homes,” Guerrero said.
Guerrero is one of over 21,000 Lubbock veterans who won’t have to be buried far from home. In the past, veterans would be buried at other Texas State Veterans Cemeteries, such as in Amarillo or Dallas.
“It’s very rare for a small town to get recognized with a Veteran Cemetery and it’s a big deal,” Guerrero said. “It’s not a big deal just for Lubbock. It’s a big deal for America.”
Guerrero said it was an all-hands-on deck effort by local, state and national officials to help get this idea in motion. He said it’s been in the making for years now and it’s exciting to see it come to fruition.
“If you put man-hours into it – I don’t think that you could count that high,” Guerrero said.
One of those helping out was Norman Bearden who is with the Texas Veterans Land board. He said the close to 16 million in funding was a pleasant surprise.
“That was very nice for us to receive — kind of unexpected but we’re very happy to receive them,” Bearden said.
Bearden said thanks to all the funding, there will also be a memorial walk, a scattering garden and thousands of spaces for those who served. It will be Bearden’s resting place along with Guerrero.
“It’s a comfort to know that I’ll have a place in an area that I’m very familiar with,” Bearden said.
Guerrero said having the veteran cemetery in Lubbock means more than a place to rest.
“I do think that this cemetery is going to highlight what Lubbock does for its veterans, what Lubbock does for its community and what Lubbock does for those who sacrifice the most,” Guerrero said.