Credit: Madeline Paakkonen from the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs
The State Veterans Cemetery—Preston has received a Comprehensive Compliance Score of 98 percent in the National Cemetery Administration’s 2019 Veterans Cemetery Grants Compliance Review.
The Preston Cemetery received 91 out of 93 possible points for overall quality performance in categories such as Interment Operations, Grounds Maintenance, Headstone, Marker and Niche Cover, Equipment Maintenance, and Other Standards.
“We are very proud of these compliance review results and our cemetery team that works so hard to make the MNSVC – Preston a national shrine,” said David Swantek, Senior Administrator of Memorial Affairs. “This is confirmation that this is one of the finest Veterans Cemeteries in the Nation.”
In addition to this impressive accomplishment, the Cemetery only failed to receive a perfect score because of the intense winter months specific to Minnesota.
“The only two points we lost are both related to the fact that we do not place headstones in the winter due to significant frost and snow,” explained State Veterans Cemetery – Preston Supervisor Rob Gross. “NCA does not consider winter in their guidelines. However, for everyone that lives in the North, you understand why we will not do that with the accuracy and precision we require to set these stones.”
In arguably the most challenging category, Gravesite Assessment Review, the Preston team received an outstanding 100 percent accuracy score, indicating that all headstones were inspected at the desired angle of 90° and followed correct height measurements.
Gross happily delivered the inspectors’ feedback to the Preston team.
“The grounds were called beautiful and of golf course quality, and the compliance team was amazed at how all of this had happened in just over three years,” Gross said. “The compliance team was impressed with our equipment logs, maintenance operations, and facilities. The scheduling process and process for unclaimed Veterans was recognized for its organization and efficiency. The accuracy of orders, setting, replacement of the damaged, and reorder was impeccable.”
The rating comes as a testament to the hard work and dedication shown each day by the Preston Cemetery team, something that was echoed by Gross.
“Congrats to the team, because without you and your hard work, this would not happen, and to our many community partners, honor teams, Memorial Rifle Squads, our sister locations, local county and cities, our leadership, and to the Department!” he stated. “A very special thank you to the families for putting their trust in our team and the State Cemetery Program. These grounds are a shrine and are sacred.”