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Monday, September 22, 2014 - 11:19pm

"Veterans for the Green" plans protest and fundraising for Fort Bliss National Cemetery

KTSM
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POSTED: Friday, October 18, 2013 - 7:02pm

UPDATED: Saturday, October 19, 2013 - 8:28pm

Group wants to bring back grass to cemetery

A group of local veterans have formed the group " Veterans for the Green" in hopes of raising funds to fix what they call unacceptable conditions at the Fort Bliss National Cemetery.
Local veteran Frank Winslett was in tears when he talked about the Fort Bliss National Cemetery where many of his fellow soldiers are buried.

"If a veteran is carried back home or he walks back home on his own, they deserve the honor and the respect of being buried in a state that has some dignity. That has something that they have fought for, something they have died for. That's my opinion and I'm a veteran," said Winslett.

He's angry that cemetery officials removed the grass years ago and said he speaks on behalf of other veterans that want the grass back.

"It's like a popper's field, its horrible out there. Go take a look," said Winslett.

Winslett felt the cemetery is a disgrace to the men who lay there, remembered by the names on their tombstones, and for their family members who visit their graves.

"Theres no place to sit. There's no place to kneel. You can't go beside your loved one and be there for a few moments," said Winslett. Dirt was getting in their eyes and their mouths. It was horrible."

Saturday, he and his supporters will protest across the street from the Fred Wilson cemetery entrance at 10:00am.

"Protesting at the cemetery, is a disgrace and its disrespectful to the people that are buried here," said Fort Bliss National Cemetery Direct Andrew Matthews.

Matthews said removing the grass in 2006 was necessary.

"Before they removed the turf, it was not lush green grass. We're in El Paso. It gets about eight inches of rain a year if we're lucky. The turf was yellow dying weeds," said Matthews.

With El Paso's water restrictions, the available amount was just not enough to keep the conditions of the cemetery worthy of a national shrine, according to Matthews.

"The veterans that are protesting do not represent all the veterans that live in El Paso," said Matthews.

But Winslett believed Saturday is his chance to prove his point: cemeteries are not just for the dead, they are for the living. 

Comments News Comments

The disgrace is with the statements made by Mr Andrews. Very misleading! The protest will be across the street. The administration was approached for possible compromise, they didn't want to discuss anything, only arresting people, even after being told the cemetery would not be desecrated by veterans
Why doesn't he answer questions about the alleged notification of veterans prior to removing grass. Why doesn't he answer questions about cost of repairs of cemetery twice, cost of removing grass

Honestly... there are better ways to spend $$ than on grass for dead people. My guess is that these past soldiers would want that $$$ to go to things like assistance to soldiers with PTSD or with the homeless vet assistance, or job assistance for separating soldiers, etc... I agree in a respect aspect... but feel there are better was to spent money... grass in El Paso requires constant watering which means constant bills for water.

Honestly... there are better ways to spend $$ than on grass for dead people. My guess is that these past soldiers would want that $$$ to go to things like assistance to soldiers with PTSD or with the homeless vet assistance, or job assistance for separating soldiers, etc... I agree in a respect aspect... but feel there are better was to spent money... grass in El Paso requires constant watering which means constant bills for water.

I see that there is enough water to keep the grass at the golf course, Parade Fields and the Sports Complex green, just not enough for the National Cemetery. Can anyone tell me why?

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