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OC Vets set sights on So Cal State Veterans Cemetery

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Since 1999, a growing number of veterans and other supporters have dreamed of locating a veteran’s cemetery and memorial on a portion of the closed Marine Corps Air Station El Toro (MCAS El Toro). The veterans’ cemetery would serve as a permanent remembrance of all veterans who have fought and died defending the United States.

OC Vets set sights on So Cal State Veterans Cemetery. The group is finally seeing some signs of significant progress over the past year. The Orange County Veterans Memorial Park Foundation, as the assemblage of cemetery supporters is now known, reports achievement of the following milestones, according to foundation chair Bill Cook of Mission Viejo.

In January 2014, then Assembly Member Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-CA65), and Chair of the Assembly Committee on Veterans Affairs, introduced Assembly Bill 1453 that would direct the California Department of Veterans Affairs (Cal-Vet) to apply to the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs State Cemetery Grant Program to receive funding for the construction of a Southern California Veterans Cemetery in Orange County.

To further the effort for a Southern California State Veterans Cemetery, the City Council of Irvine in July 2014 unanimously designated and agreed to convey to the State 125 acres within the Orange County Great Park as the site for the cemetery.

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In September 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1453 into law.

The Orange County Veterans Memorial Park Foundation now awaits Cal-Vet’s grant submission to the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which is now anticipated to be by July 1. 2016.

The Mission

ELTOROU. S. Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, and those who served there, granted a legacy to Orange County and the City of Irvine. To honor the memory of their contribution to this community and to the freedoms we all enjoy, a state veterans cemetery should be established within the grounds of the former military base. The 125.5 acre portion of the Great Park, recently ceded back to the City of Irvine, by Five Point Development, would be ideal site, both for the City, the surrounding Communities and to recognize the sacrifice of our veterans for our Nation. Within the Greater Los Angeles area, there are over 500,000 living veterans and over 17,000 veteran’s deaths per year, making this potentially the greatest underserved area of California for interment.

Towards this purpose ORANGE COUNTY VETERANS MEMORIAL PARK FOUNDATION, a California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation, was established to join with veterans, public and private organizations, and civic leaders to gain support, organize, plan, develop, deploy and maintain the building of a veterans cemetery at the Great Park, former site of the U. S. Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in Orange County, California

Why in Orange County

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Marine Corps Air Station El Toro officially closed in 1999. Many Veterans and those who served at El Toro immediately sought a portion of Orange County’s military heritage to be dedicated as a place of eternal honor and rest for those who have loyally and faithfully served our nation. A Veterans Cemetery in Orange County at the old MCAS El Toro is perfectly logical and appropriate. Many of our Veterans were either deployed from this base going to war or returned here after fighting a year at war.

More recently, significant progress has been made. The site has been selected and designated, and the pre-production plans and studies are in process. It is anticipated that very soon application will be made to the Federal Department of Veterans Affairs for a grant of initial phase construction funding and thereafter an official groundbreaking for the Southern California Veterans Cemetery.  The VA grant program is very generous and will provide most of the funding needed for our Cemetery. Most, but not all. In anticipation of requirements not addressed by the grant program and to offer compassionate support to Veterans and families, the Orange County Veterans Memorial Park Foundation (OCVMPF) was formed as a non-profit 501(c)3, Tax ID #46-5328246.

OCVMPF has been invited to participate in the iheartOC Giving Day Fundraising Event over a 30-hour time period from 6 am on April 27th to noon on April 28th. This presents an opportunity to contribute to the OCVMPF and qualify us for additional matching funds and incentives upon the outcome of this significant community-wide Campaign. To contribute on April 27th, please visit: www.iheartoc.org.  To learn more about Orange County Veterans Memorial Park Foundation, view our iheartOC OCVMPF profile at: http://bit.ly/OCVMPFprofile.

For the OCVMPF and our future Southern California Veterans Cemetery, we thank you in advance for your steadfast and passionate support. Please use this event to contribute to our cause, and spread the message thru your networks to all of those who have expressed encouragement that now it is the time to step up and participate.

To quote President Lincoln at the dedication of the Gettysburg cemetery…….. ““It is altogether fitting and proper that we do this” 

Supporters

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
Orange County Employees Association

Los Amigos of Orange County

American Legion CA District 29
American GI Forum – Rudy Escalante OC

LULAC Santa Ana Council #147

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10694
Disabled American Veterans

Orange County Veterans Employment Committee

Daughters of the American Revolution
​Masonic Family Helping Veterans
The OC Sentinel

Orange County Homeownership Collaborative

In The News

Latest news from around Orange County

5Plans for veterans cemetery at Irvine Great Park move forward
IRVINE – Bill Cook, a Vietnam War veteran, is leading the local effort to construct a state veterans cemetery on a 125-acre portion of the Great Park….
Read more…
By SARAH de CRESCENZO / STAFF WRITER
Posted in: “Liberal OC” on Nov. 10, 2015

2Irvine City Official Filtered Town Hall Attendees based on Race
We wrote about the “cancelled” Town Hall at the Cypress Village Community Center where Irvine Mayor Steven Choi and Council member Lynn Schott would hear concerns from neighbors of a FivePoint development who oppose Great Park Veterans Cemetery and Memorial.
Read more…
By Dan Chmielewski
Posted in: “Liberal OC” on June 24, 2015

1Veterans Cemetery at the Great Park?
Irvine council has agreed to form a committee to explore the idea as ex-military members see relevance in the site’s former use as a Marine Corps air station.
Read more…
By: Jill Cowan
Posted in: “The Daily Pilot” on April 18, 2014

3Irvine Council Designates Land for Veterans Cemetery
A unanimous Irvine City Council on Tuesday night moved Orange County one step closer to having its first veterans cemetery, after former service members and their supporters turned out in a strong and often emotional show of support…
Read more…
By NICK GERDA
Posted in “Voice of OC” on July 23, 2014

4O.C. veterans propose cemetery at former Marine base
The old Marine Corps Air Statiion El Toto is being transformed into housing, parkland and sports fields. Its developer fears that military graves would hurt home values.
Read more…
By Jim Cowan
Posted in: “LA Times” on April 27, 2014

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