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Schumer pushes for funding for vet cemetery in Pembroke

WASHINGTON – A new National Veterans Cemetery in Genesee County still isn’t fully funded, but Sen. Charles E. Schumer set out Thursday to change that.

While money is in place for the planning and design of the cemetery on a 132-acre site in Pembroke, there’s still no federal funding in place for the construction of the cemetery.

In hopes of getting the funding allocated during the federal government’s 2017 fiscal year, Schumer wrote to Veterans Secretary Robert McDonald, asking that money for the project be included in the 2017 budget proposal that President Obama will present early next year.

“My concern is that if funding is not included in FY17, there is a greater chance for significant delay between the design and construction phases, a risk that I ask you to take measures to safeguard against now,” Schumer told McDonald.

The cemetery will be the first of its kind in the Buffalo-Rochester area, and it will mean that military families will not have to look to the nearest existing veterans cemetery – 100 mills away in Bath, in Steuben County – for the burial of their loved ones.

The planning portion of the design process for the new cemetery is anticipated to be complete by the late January, and the remainder of the cemetery design process phase is scheduled to be finished by the end of 2016.

But Schumer said the VA can’t stop there.

“The veterans and local leaders in Western New York and the Rochester-Finger Lakes region have worked too long and too hard to help make this veterans’ cemetery in Pembroke a reality to watch it stall in the construction phase,” Schumer said. “We need the VA to ensure the funding will be there to guarantee the military veterans in this area will have a proper burial, at a site close to the homes, families and communities they dedicated their lives to serve and defend.”