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Pembroke cemetery for nation’s veterans receives Western New York name

BATAVIA – The first national veterans cemetery in the Buffalo and Rochester area will be called the Western New York National Cemetery.

That will be the official name of the new 132-acre cemetery being planned for the Town of Pembroke, according to directors of the Veterans Administration’s National Cemetery Administration.

Construction of the cemetery on Indian Falls Road, just north of Thruway Exit 48A, will start once federal funding has been appropriated. The VA purchased the property in May 2014 for $625,000.

William R. Joyce, director of the Genesee County Veterans Service Agency, said he learned of the name Thursday at a meeting of the County Veterans Service Officer Association at the Bath VA Medical Center in Steuben County, where the nearly 29-acre Bath National Cemetery also is located.

James R. Metcalfe II, who has been appointed as director of the Western New York site, told him that the National Cemetery Administration approved the Western New York National Cemetery name, Joyce said.

“Everything still has to go through the legal items, but he (Metcalfe) assured me that the naming will be as such,” Joyce wrote in an email to Genesee County legislators.

“So now, it’s onward to getting the funding in order to start the construction.”

Joyce said the funding request is included in the upcoming federal budget that “hopefully will be passed before the end of September.”

If passed, construction could begin in the spring of 2017. In January, National Cemetery Association leaders held a public session outlining the specifics of the cemetery, which will serve as a final resting place, at no cost, to service members who die on active duty, those who are honorably discharged, National Guard members and reservists who have 20 years of qualifying service and are entitled to retirement pay, and spouses, minor children and certain parents.

Officials said the cemetery will be built in five phases, with the initial phase resulting in the first 10 years of burial being turned over at the end of construction.

The first interments will take place a year after the start of construction, officials said, and the complete build-out of the first phase will take about 33 months.

All told, the cemetery will be built to accommodate 60 years of burials.

The National Cemetery Association selected Western New York as a national cemetery location after identifying that some 96,000 veterans and family members live in a 75-mile radius between Buffalo and Rochester.