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State veterans cemetery receives national honor

The Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery in Little Falls received a prestigious Excellence of Appearance honor from the National Cemetery Administration.

This is one of the highest honors a state cemetery can receive from the federal VA. Minnesota is currently one of only three states in the country to be recognized and receive this accolade.

The Excellence of Appearance honor is a component of Shrine Status, which is based on a set of standards created by the National Cemetery Administration. The criteria includes an extensive checklist of components that a cemetery must meet, to include the overall experience and feel of the cemetery, the condition of the turf, the design of the layout and more.

Frank Salvas Sr., director of the State Cemetery Grants Service, visited the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery for a tour, and to congratulate Cemetery Director David Swantek and cemetery staff.

"This recognition of the hard work and effort of the Cemetery staff here in Little Falls represents the high standards the National Cemetery Administration portrays. Their daily efforts are a clear indication that those interred here are honored and respected," said Salvas.

In fiscal year 2011 the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery received an overall satisfaction rate of 97.62 percent for various categories, including handling of burial, facilities, overall appearance of grounds and courtesy of staff.

"I am extremely proud of David Swantek and his team of professionals. Their effort in ensuring our veterans final resting place is maintained at the highest of standards clearly demonstrates the value Minnesotans place on our veterans and their service," said Larry Shellito, Commissioner Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs.

Please see your local county veterans service officer if you have any questions. You can contact your local VSO at (218) 631-7617 or by e-mail at As always, have a great week.