VA awards more than $2M in grants to memorialize Veterans interred in national cemeteries

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WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration announced it has awarded six grants totaling more than $2,187,800 as part of the Veterans Legacy Program to award funding to educational institutions and non-profit organizations. These grants will provide funding for students and teachers around the country to learn about, memorialize, and share the stories of Veterans interred in NCA cemeteries.

“These grants help ensure future generations of Americans will appreciate the legacies of Veterans who have given so much for this nation,” said Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Matt Quinn. “This marks the second year the Veterans Legacy Program  has provided funding that empowers recipients to research and memorialize Veterans, teach students about Veterans, and develop innovative ways of telling Veterans’ stories.”

The following grantees were selected following a rigorous review process from 18 organizations who applied for grants through a Notice of Funding Availability published March 2023.

  • The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History (GLI), grant of $498,714.96.
    The new project, titled World War II: Portraits of Service, will include the creation of five lesson plans, teacher professional development, and a traveling exhibit all centered around members of the greatest generation whose stories have remained untold. A Portraits of Service award will be given to 10 students whose work excels in honoring these Veterans.
  • Loyola Marymount University (LMU), grant of $370,000.
    The LMU Digital Veterans Legacy Project will continue its efforts to research and document the lives of Veterans interred in Los Angeles National Cemetery. LMU will work closely with local high schools and community and Veterans’ groups. The project will focus on identifying and telling the stories of Buffalo Soldiers and Asian-American Veterans interred within the cemetery. LMU’s Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps detachment will collaborate with the high school and undergraduate students as well.
  • Ball State University (BSU), grant of $337,464.
    BSU’s project will highlight the significant contributions of Indiana natives who served in the 28th U.S. Colored Troops (USCT), Indiana’s only African American regiment that served in the U.S. Army during the Civil War. Graduate assistants will research the lives and service legacies of USCTs interred at Crown Hill National Cemetery and New Albany National Cemetery. The results of this research will be incorporated into a digital story map, a traveling exhibit, and curriculum packets developed for teachers.
  • University of Central Missouri (UCM), grant of $399,000.
    UCM’s Veteran Voices from the Heartland project will produce biographies of noted and/or underrepresented Black and Native-American Veterans. Civil War and World War II Veterans interred at Fort Scott National Cemetery in Fort Scott, Kansas will be researched, and World War II Veterans interred at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery in Higginsville, Missouri will be studied, as well. Neither of these cemeteries has been the focus of previous VLP projects. A website for these digital biographies will be created and a research handbook will be crafted for teachers attending the university’s summer institute.
  • University of Central Florida (UCF), grant of $399,260.
    The UCF project aims to connect teachers and students to Veterans interred in St. Augustine and other Florida National Cemeteries. Deliverables will include mini tours of national cemeteries in Florida, biographies of Veterans buried in national cemeteries, and the creation of lesson plans to be used in Florida public schools. Student team members will also translate select Veteran biographies on UCF’s website into Spanish. All materials will be made available to the public via the UCF-VLP website.
  • West Virginia Humanities Council, grant of $183,368.

The West Virginia National Cemeteries Project will facilitate the work of approximately 40 students at Grafton High School and University High in Morgantown. These students will compose biographies of Veterans interred at Grafton and West Virginia National Cemeteries over the next year. Student work will be made permanently available to the public though the West Virginia Humanities Council website, the Veterans Legacy Memorial and other repositories.

NCA established VLP in 2016 as a transformational effort to memorialize our Veterans. The program has awarded more than 30 contracts and six previous grants to educational organizations and engaged more than 15,000 students of all levels in Veteran research and commemoration. This newest grant award will add to the continued collection of Veterans biographies, documentaries, lesson plans, and instructional aids.

VA operates 155 national cemeteries and 34 soldiers’ lots and monument sites across the nation. More than five million Americans, including Veterans of every war and conflict, are buried in VA cemeteries.

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