Thursday, July 29, 2010

More Bad News re: Arlington National Cemetery

And the news gets worse and the count goes up at Arlington National Cemetery. Who knows
how bad it actually is.

According to report by Senator Claire McCaskill between 4,900 to 6,600 graves may be unmarked, improperly marked or mislabeled on the cemetery maps.

Last month the Army examined a small section of the cemetery and declared possibly 211 graves
were marked incorrectly. The cemetery still uses paper records, after spending nearly $5.5 million over the last seven years to create a computer system to keep track of the records,
which so far has been unsuccessful.

"We've lost the bodies of our fallen heroes, we've got cremated remains, and we don't even know who they belong to, turning up in the field. Did you ever write that up? Did that ever go up the chain of command? Did the chief of staff of the Army ever see a document from you that we've got a problem, we've found cremated remains and we don't know where they belong?" McCaskill asked.

There have been no reviews for over a decade, and there was not audit taken to ensure contracts
were being followed, and that contracts were at a fair price.

Former Superintendent John Metzler and his deputy Thurman Higginbotham were both called
to testify at the hearing. Both were forced to retire following the review. The report by the Army Inspector General's office accused Metzler of repeatedly failing to ensure burials were being done properly and of failing to respond after unmarked graves were discovered.

Metzler stated that a 35 percent reduction in staff, and the complexity of handling 6,000 burials
a year contributed to the problems.

"Those staffing losses were to be offset by increased opportunities for outsourcing to private contractors," Metzler stated. "As experience has shown, however, that approach does not always result in the most effective or efficient solution."

In addition to military funerals the cemetery also includes the graves of former presidents
and U.S. Supreme Court justices.

"We owe our veterans better," McCaskill said Thursday. "We owe their families better. We owe better to the Americans who expect their government to not fritter away their money on wasteful contracts. And the officials who let this happen — whether through ignorance, incompetence, or denial — need to be held accountable."

Such treatment of our fallen heroes is beyond contempt and is just one more blot on the
horrible record our caring for our country's veterans and deceased military members. There
is no excuse for such shabby and uncaring; and it seems unending maltreatment of those
who served our country.

Jerald Terwilliger
National Chairman
American Cold War Veterans
"We Remember"

----------------"And so the greatest of American triumphs... became a peculiarly joyless victory. We had won the Cold War, but there would be no parades."-- Robert M. Gates, 1996