LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery is the second busiest cemetery of its kind in the nation and the much-needed expansion could not have come at a better time.

Currently, there are over 50,000 veterans laid to rest at the cemetery and this expansion will add over 5,000 burial plots and eight crematorium walls.

William “Bill” Perlmutter is the chairman of the Southern Nevada Memorial Cemetary Advisory Committee. He said the support has been overwhelming as many Nevadans, veterans, and people from across the United States and the world have come to pay their respects.

“Not too long ago they were running out of space for the veterans so with this grant being presented I would say it’s been about 3 years in the making,” Perlmutter explained. “Three to 4 years because they know we have to look towards the future for expanding the cemetery.”

The groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday drew in a big crowd ranging from state leaders and veterans like Robert Bencsko.

 “This cemetery is personal for a lot of people, it’s personal for me. I’ve had a lot of fellow veterans that I buried here in this cemetery,” Bencsko said. “It is very pleasing to see Nevada is taking a step forward to expanding and supporting veterans in the community.”

Construction for the expansion is expected to start in February 2023 and a $5 million VA grant will help pay for the project.

 “As you know, around 1990 to present day, we’ve gone from 280,000 people in the Las Vegas area to over 2 million now, so this cemetery is necessary and it’s a big shrine for everybody,” Perlmutter added.