Today, the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs (DAMA) held an oversight hearing to examine the current state of our National Cemeteries. Testifying before the subcommittee were representatives from all of the agencies who have jurisdiction over veterans cemeteries.
The National Cemetery Administration (NCA) has come under fire recently due to a series of audits revealing, to date, over 240 mismarked or unmarked graves and 8 veterans or their loved ones buried in the wrong place at 13 cemeteries nationwide. Today's hearing was used as an opportunity to review NCA's progress in mending the harm revealed by the national audit, as well as to review measures taken to ensure greater accountability.
"I believe every person in this room agrees we have a solemn obligation to cherish the memory and heroic actions of our veterans by holding ourselves and our organizations to the highest of standards. I also believe everyone here is as passionate as I am about our mutual duty in honoring our fallen heroes as best as we know how, with all the resources we can muster," stated Rep. Jon Runyan (NJ-3), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs on the importance of fixing mistakes at National Cemeteries.
Runyan said, "VA needs to ensure they are holding contractors accountable for their actions; use more rigorous oversight practices; and move to a paperless system. When VA proves these serious long term changes have happened, then these horrific failings will cease to exist. It is the duty of this subcommittee to ensure no family will have to endure a second burial of a fallen hero."
Today's hearing also brought to light progress which has been made in other cemeteries, including Arlington National Cemetery. "The new leadership at Arlington has done a tremendous job in fixing the issues they were facing. NCA, too, has begun to make significant strides in remedying the problems that were revealed in the recent audit."