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What is it?

The Iowa Veterans Cemetery (IVC) is the first federally funded construction of a state-owned and operated veterans cemetery in the State of Iowa. The cemetery serves the veteran population throughout the state and around the country, as there is no state residency requirement to be interred in the cemetery. Ultimately, it will provide sufficient burial space for up to 80,000 burials. Eligibility considerations are outlined in the link Eligibility for Burial.

A groundbreaking ceremony on Veterans Day in 2006 initiated the project. Construction began in late July of the following year, with the dedication occurring on July 3, 2008. At the time of the dedication, over 1,000 veterans and eligible dependents had already been determined eligible. The first of 76 scheduled interments began on July 7th.

Find out more about the history of this project and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs State Cemetery Grants Program. Many are surprised to learn that IVC traces its roots and heritage to Gettysburg. We invite you to learn more about the project by scanning through a gallery of photographs beginning with site selection and testing through groundbreaking, construction, and dedication from the link Construction History.

Iowa Veterans Cemetery highway sign

The distinctive Interstate 80 wall marks for all to see where Iowans honor those who served.

Where is it?

IVC is centrally located approximately 10 miles west of Des Moines and runs south along Interstate 80 in Dallas County near the community of Van Meter. (I-80, Exit 113). Interstate signs mark the exit. The cemetery entrance is also easily identifiable and is just off of Veterans Memorial Drive (formerly “R” Avenue).

map of cemetery area

What does it look like?

The First Phase (light green shading) incorporates approximately 40 acres of developed land, which includes a main entrance feature, committal service shelter with assembly area, columbaria plaza, memorial and monument walks, administration/maintenance complex and supporting infrastructure.  Total gravesites in this Phase allow for up to 12,110 burials (in-ground casketed and cremated remains, and columbaria plaza for cremated remains). Phase 1 is estimated to meet the needs of eligible veterans and their families for 20 years. Phases 2-4 are available for future expansion within this 100 acre complex.

Site Development Plan

Phase 1 Enlarged view of Site Development Plan
Enlarged View of the Black and White Overall Site Plan

IVC was developed and constructed through a federal grant.  By accepting the grant, the state committed to maintaining and operating the cemetery to national standards in perpetuity (subject to federal inspection). As such, national standards related to eligibility and operation are controlling.  Unlike our private cemetery counterparts, graveside services are not provided for at state veteran cemeteries (also not provided for at national cemeteries like Arlington). All funeral and/or chapel services are held prior to arriving at the cemetery. Only committal services, if elected by the family, are held at the Committal Service Shelter. A committal service takes the place of the graveside service. After the committal service, cemetery staff professionally and privately transports the casket (or cremated remains) to a designated location for interment.  The family may visit the burial location after cemetery staff declares it safe.

To learn more about the Iowa Veterans Cemetery, please visit the other links found at the top of this page.

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