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News from the Department of Veterans Affairs

Press Releases

VA Expands Choice Program Eligibility, Effective Immediately (4/24/2015)

In order to expand eligibility for the Veterans Choice Program, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced that it will determine eligibility for the Veterans Choice Program based on the distance between a Veteran's place of residence and the nearest VA medical facility using driving distance rather than straight-line distance. This change has been published in the Federal Register and is effective immediately.

Group of Respected Medical Experts to Advise VA on Health Care for 9 Million Veterans (4/24/2015)

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced a new 11-member Special Medical Advisory Group (SMAG) composed of leading medical experts to assist the Department in delivering health care to the 9 million Veterans enrolled in the Veterans Health Administration.

VA Extends Program for Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury (4/13/2015)

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced the award of 20 contracts for the Assisted Living Pilot Program for Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury (AL-TBI). Originally slated to end in 2014, the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 ('VACAA') extended this program through October 2017.

VAntage Point

Maryland’s “Little Arlington” fills in for House of Cards season three filming

Posted: Mon, 27 Apr 2015 13:05:05 +0000

Almost seven months after filming, Baltimoreans and Veterans alike saw their national cemetery in Season 3 of House of Cards. The cemetery, one of VA’s 131 national cemeteries across the country, is used to represent Arlington National Cemetery in episode 4, of the popular Netflix series.

Baltimore National Cemetery was originally envisioned as Maryland’s “Little Arlington,” when built in the 1930s as an extension of the nearby Loudon Park National Cemetery. The cemetery is open for cremated remains and some casketed remains for Veterans and eligible spouses and minor dependents.

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The National Cemetery Administration receives requests periodically to use its cemeteries for television and movie filming. “Since national cemeteries are located across the country and are as picturesque as the Army’s Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, production companies often find it easier to film on location at one of the VA’s cemeteries,” said Mike Nacincik, chief of the National Cemetery Administration’s Communications and Outreach Support Division. “Filming requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and productions must agree to maintain the dignity and respect of the cemetery.”

The site occupied by Baltimore National Cemetery is famous for its part in warning Baltimore about the British fleet sailing toward Fort McHenry in 1814. Residents of the estate, called Cloud Capped at the time, sent a messenger to Baltimore to warn the city upon seeing the British fleet approaching from the estate’s elevated location adjacent to Frederick Road.

Conversion of the Cloud Capped estate to a national shrine was a Works Progress Administration (WPA), Depression-era project along with several other national cemeteries during the 1930s and early 1940s.

Between 1936 when the government took possession of the 72.2-acre property to 1940, an estimated 100 to 150 men worked on the project and nearly $400,000 was expended on the WPA improvements to the national cemetery. Funds were spent on “surveys, roads, gates, fences, razing old mansion, new lodge, utilities, out-buildings, preparing and monumenting grave-sites, and landscaping,” according to records.

The first interment at Baltimore National Cemetery took place Dec. 18, 1936, and the cemetery was formally dedicated Memorial Day, May 30, 1941. Baltimore National Cemetery has six monuments representing each of the six Marine divisions from World War II. Medal of Honor recipient Fireman First Class Loddie Stupka, U.S. Navy, is buried in the Distinguished Service Section, Grave 1.

Veterans with a qualifying discharge, their spouse and eligible dependent children may be buried in a VA national cemetery. Also eligible are military personnel who die on active duty, their spouses and eligible dependents.

Other burial benefits available for all eligible Veterans, regardless of whether they are buried in a national cemetery or a private cemetery, include a burial flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate and a government headstone or marker.

VA operates 131 national cemeteries, one national Veterans burial ground and 33 soldiers’ lots and monument sites in 40 states and Puerto Rico. More than 4 million Americans, including Veterans of every war and conflict, are buried in VA’s national cemeteries.

Information on VA burial benefits can be obtained from national cemetery offices, from the Internet at www.cem.va.gov, or by calling VA regional offices toll-free at 800-827-1000.

To make burial arrangements at any VA national cemetery at the time of need, call the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 800-535-1117.

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