Vet Groups unite on Anaheim Hills Location for OC Veterans Cemetery.

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Sorry, Irvine, you guys blew it.

This press release from Nick Berardino of the VALOR veterans group marched across our transom a few hours ago.  Irvine’s inability to agree on a site for an OC Veterans’ Cemetery, whoever you want to blame that inability on, has gone on way too long now, nearly a decade.  Hundreds of Orange County veterans who really wanted to be buried in a cemetery here, close to their families, have died without that possibility.  One of them was my own Dad, a Navy vet, who passed away recently.  Well, Anaheim wants this cemetery and we’re ready to go.  State politicians, Sharon Quirk-Silva, Josh Newman, Tom Umberg, Dave Min, Anaheim Council, let’s make this happen!

The Orange Juice Blog will be getting a tour of the site from Nick next week – come back for a lot of pictures and more info – Vern

Here’s Nick…

OC Veterans Unite for New Cemetery Site

VALOR leads coalition of Veterans, elected officials, and community leaders
for a state Veterans Cemetery off the 241 toll road.

Orange County, CA — After years of studies, bureaucratic roadblocks, and broken promises from elected officials, Veterans in Orange County are abandoning efforts to build a cemetery at the former El Toro military base.

“Veterans may have survived a war, but were used as political artillery shells in a dirty political war they could never win.” – Nick Berardino, President of VALOR

“The pathetic reality is that a Veterans state cemetery will not be built as promised to Veterans at the Great Park [former El Toro military base],” said Nick Berardino, a U.S. Marine Corps Vietnam Veteran and President of Veterans Alliance of Orange County (VALOR). “We served our country and had a simple ask to be buried at a dedicated Veterans cemetery in Orange County. We worked our butts off through all the council meetings, legislation, and community meetings to get it built where it was promised to us. Now, we have no choice, but to abandon an Irvine location and work with County leaders to get the cemetery built off the 241 toll road.”

At the heart of VALOR’s final decision to move to a new location is the continued opposition by Larry Agran, who insists on building the cemetery in a section of the Great Park that is cost prohibitive compared to a more appropriate and much more affordable site elsewhere in the park according a recent CalVet study. The CalVet study found that the Agran backed hanger site would cost an estimated $110 million while the VALOR backed golf course site would cost about $74 million.

“This demand by Agran to force Irvine residents into a prolonged fight for a cemetery site that would cost taxpayers double when we could start building today for about half the cost at a more feasible site in another section of the park is an insult to Veterans and Irvine taxpayers,” said Bobby McDonald, small business advocate and VALOR board member.

Veterans aren’t waiting around. VALOR is already meeting with County Supervisors and state officials to conduct a new study through CalVet for the 241 toll road site. “We don’t have time for another decade of petty political fights and broken promises to our Veterans,” said Bill Cook, U.S. Marine Corps Vietnam Veteran and VALOR board member.

County elected officials have shown an initial willingness to assist the state in building the cemetery where the 241 toll road meets the 91 freeway. The 283 acre site in the Anaheim Hills Mountain Park was conveyed to the Orange County Cemetery District by the Board of Supervisors in 2018. “This just seems like the right thing to do for our Veterans,” said former Irvine mayor and Orange County Supervisor Donald P. Wagner.  “They sacrificed everything to protect our nation. We should be able to come together, figure this out, and build a regional cemetery in Orange County to honor their service.”

VALOR OC is a non-profit organization of Veterans dedicated to promoting the common good and general welfare of the community by educating the public about Veterans issues, advocating for Veterans rights, and engaging in activities to promote the interests of Veterans.

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.