The original Camp Custer was built in 1917 on 130 parcels of land, mainly small farms leased to the government by the local chamber of commerce as part of the military mobilization for World War I. After a two-year grace period, the Army was allowed to buy it for about $98 an acre. Construction of the camp started in July 1917 and within five months 2,000 buildings were ready to accommodate some 36,000 men. During World War I, some 90,000 troops passed through Camp Custer. Following the Armistice of 1918, the camp became a demobilization base for over 100,000 men. Some of the troops passed through here twice, going to war and upon returning home.
On May 10, 1923, an executive order transferred 675 acres to the Veterans Bureau, predecessor organization to the Veterans Administration, for the construction of Battle Creek Veterans Hospital, which was completed in 1924. At one time, the staff and patients from the hospital farmed about 200 acres of the site. It was considered good therapy for patients and helped the hospital to be reasonably self-sufficient. During these early years, many pine trees were planted in the northeast corner of the cemetery, which today presents an attractive cathedral-like feature.
The establishment of Fort Custer Post Cemetery took place on Sept. 18, 1943, with the first interment. Under Army rules, officers and enlisted men were segregated, even after death. As a result, Section A of the post cemetery filled with enlisted servicemen, while Section O was reserved for officers.
Fort Custer National Cemetery