Newsroom > DHHS News Release

May 25, 2012
Kathie Osterman, Communications and Legislative Services, 402-471-9313 or
GIVH Cemetery Improvements to Continue with Application for Grant Funds
Lincoln – Plans are underway for additional improvements to the Grand Island Veterans’ Home cemetery, according to John Hilgert, Director of the Department of Health and Human Services Division of Veterans’ Homes and the Director of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Hilgert said the agency will apply for a grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration this summer.  He said DHHS is working with Clark Enersen Partners, Inc. of Lincoln to develop a master plan for the improvements and assist with the application. 
“Caring for and honoring the veterans who lived at the Grand Island Veterans’ Home is part of our history,” said Hilgert.  “We’re excited for the opportunity to apply for these funds to improve these hallowed grounds.” 
Hilgert said the cemetery was established in 1888 and is the final resting place for nearly 1,400 veterans and spouses.  Hilgert is also a veteran, serving from 1989 to 1992 in the U.S. Army including Desert Shield and Desert Storm.  He was a Captain in the 1st Infantry Division.
“We remember these souls for their bravery and love of country,” he said.  “We’re proud to serve our members while they are living and it is a privilege to have honored their memory for 122 years.”
Hilgert said the Grand Island Veterans’ Home has, over the past two years, set the stage for further improvements.  He said the Home has already demolished an abandoned house on the cemetery property, removed an overgrown tree line, and upgraded irrigation to part of the cemetery.  He said this grant would be a significant step in continuing these efforts. 
Hilgert said the application will include requests for such things as ground leveling and turf renovation; raising, leveling and replacing headstones as needed; cleaning and treating headstones that are stained or have mold; rebuilding a committal shelter to include a flag display; replacing fencing and a gated entrance; resurfacing the cemetery roads; purchasing equipment to manage and maintain the grounds and other items that will be identified through the development of the master plan.
“We’ve heard from community members who support our efforts and we’ll coordinate our activities with the Capital Ave. expansion,” said Hilgert.  “We appreciate the backing of the community for not only this project but also for the entire Grand Island Veterans’ Home, its employees and members.”