Thursday, June 10, 2021
Governor Announces Sampson As Pick for First State Veterans Cemetery
Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery, located at the site of the former Sampson Naval Training Station and Sampson Air Force Base in Romulus, Seneca County, has been chosen by a state-appointed committee as the site of New York’s first State Veterans Cemetery.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the decision on Memorial Day. The action brings New York one step closer to establishing a permanent, sate-owned resting place to honor the service and sacrifice of New York’s brave veterans and their family members. Governor Cuomo announced his commitment to establish New York’s first State Veterans Cemetery on Veterans Day 2019 and included this important goal in his 2020 State of the State agenda.
“Our promise has always been to establish a permanent monument to these heroes and provide their family members — and people from across the state—a place to visit and honor their memories, and this site selected in Romulus is the perfect location for a sacred, final resting place. It’s an honor to establish the first state cemetery to honor homegrown heroes and I look forward to seeing the site open for New Yorkers and their families.
Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery is situated on 162 acres along the eastern shore of Seneca Lake in New York’s Finger Lakes region. The cemetery is located on what was formerly the Sampson Naval Training Station and Sampson Air Force Base, where hundreds of thousands of servicemembers were trained during World War II and the Korean War. The site also served thousands more as a temporary college and as a separation center for service member discharges before the base’s official closure in 2000. The cemetery is also located a short distance from Waterloo, recognized across the country as the birthplace of the Memorial Day holiday.
Sampson is already a functioning veterans cemetery that operates in accordance with federal veterans cemetery standards. An initial 15 acres of the site have already been developed, providing for 6,000 planned grave sites and columbarium niches. The full 162-acre site provides the capacity to ultimately accommodate more than 80,000 grave sites.
The committee met on May 17 and again on May 24 and selected Sampson by an 8-0 vote, with one member absent for the vote.
New York is one of only a few states nationwide that does not have a state veterans cemetery. There are more than 737,000 veterans who call New York State home, and both veterans and their families have advocated for the establishment of a state veterans cemetery for many years. Until recently, state law mandated an administrative process that involved setting aside 15 years’ worth of perpetual care costs prior to moving forward with the site selection process. Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo reached an agreement with the legislature and signed a law streamlining this process and reducing barriers to the establishment of a state veterans cemetery.
The selection committee’s decision is the culmination of a search process that began in February with the issuance of a Request for Information to all local governments around the state, seeking responses from those that wished to have the first state veterans cemetery located in their jurisdiction. The Division of Veterans’ Services received 11 responses to the RFI, which were used to conduct a study and prepare a related report focused on the options available for New York’s first State Veterans Cemetery.
The Division of Veterans’ Services will now work with partner agencies to determine the 10-year costs of operating and maintaining the Sampson cemetery. Following that step, the Division of the Budget and the Office of State Comptroller must determine whether such funds exist. When both of those steps have been completed, DVS will be able to apply to the National Cemetery Administration to receive federal funding for the establishment of the first state veterans cemetery.