In Fiscal Year 2015, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed an interagency agreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs that allowed USACE the opportunity to provide project and construction management, engineering services and other support to the VA.

Since then the Corps has continued to build its relationship with the VA to deliver vital projects and services for the Nation's service members, veterans and their families.

One of those new Corps projects is the Fort Worth District's Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery Expansion Project. Located in the heart of southwest Dallas, Texas, the DFW National Cemetery overlooks the picturesque Mountain Creek Lake. The cemetery's rolling hills provide a pastoral setting for visitors as they proceed along the central boulevard to the small lake adjacent to the assembly area and committal shelters.

With construction underway, the more than $10.6 million expansion project will include the construction of additional pre-cast crypt fields, a new columbarium and ossuary, and other features to provide for five additional years of burials.

As the sixth national cemetery in Texas and the 118th in the national cemetery system, the DFW National Cemetery has developed 152 acres of the 638-acre cemetery. It also provides nearly 41,000 casketed sites and 18,000 columbaria/garden niches for cremated remains.

Sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs -- National Cemetery Administration, the cemetery will provide burial space for 280,000 eligible veterans and dependents when fully developed. Currently, more than 1.5 million veterans live in the state of Texas and approximately 460,000 reside in the cemetery's service area.

"This project will enable the VA to continue to provide burial services to the Nation's veterans for five years into the future," said Bob Hardbarger, chief of the Tactical Infrastructure Branch, of the district's Engineering and Construction Support Office. "This is the first project in our NCA program and serves to build the confidence and trust that form the basis of a growing partnership between Fort Worth District and NCA," Hardbarger added.

The contract for the expansion project, which is the first expansion of two phases, was awarded to Service- Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Randy Kinder Excavating & Koehler Engineering & Land Surveying Joint Venture in April 2016 for $10.6 million.

Based out of Missouri, the SDVOSB contractor employs a total of six veterans and two reservists, most of whom are from this area.

"We are working a unique project because it is an active cemetery. With 20 to 27 funerals per day between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., we are utilizing more hours of operation and getting the job done. This project is significant to us because it's in support of our fellow service members, veterans and their families," said quality control manager Shawn Crawford for Randy Kinder Excavating & Koehler Engineering & Land Surveying.

Using SDVOSBs is a program-imperative for the VA. The Fort Worth District was able to establish the contract vehicle concurrently with awarding the DFW National Cemetery expansion project, which was viewed as a significant accomplishment by the District's NCA partners.

The contract award is the pilot using SDVOSB Multiple Award Task Order Contract mechanism, which provides numerous SDVOSB opportunities for future NCA projects in the Southwestern Division area of responsibility.

"We appreciate everything the Corps of Engineers has done. I'm very impressed with the professionalism and amount of knowledge the team has demonstrated," said Deborah Kamisato, Administrative Officer for the DFW National Cemetery. "By the time I ask a question, the Corps has already addressed it," she added.

Construction began May 2016 and is expected to be completed in early 2018.

"We are especially honored to be a part of the DFW National Cemetery Expansion Project because it serves as a final resting place for our service men and women, who proudly and selflessly served their country. The Corps of Engineers is committed to the success of this project and the continued partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs to work together to support the needs our Nation's veterans," said Calvin C. Hudson II, commander, Fort Worth District.