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Public Statements

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. WITTMAN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

We all know the record of problems at Arlington National Cemetery, and we know the current leadership there has made significant progress in fixing that system. But my concern with Arlington is not with the professionals and leaders who have turned Arlington around and worked tirelessly to ensure the fallen members of our all-volunteer force, our veterans, and their families are treated with the respect, reverence, and honor they deserve. My concern is that the scandals and embarrassment that rocked Arlington National Cemetery went largely unprosecuted for one reason: no one from the former civilian directors in the former chain of command at Arlington was held accountable for their actions and their gross negligence and gross mismanagement because none of them were subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Additionally, Arlington is managed by the Army and rests adjacent to a joint military base. Tenants of that command work on that base daily.

With that, I believe strongly that we need to have a military leader now in charge of Arlington National Cemetery.

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Mr. WITTMAN. Mr. Chairman, you know, as you've heard, this issue is really about this: it's about making sure that there's accountability and that there's responsibility at this Nation's most distinguished resting place where our heroes that have defended this Nation go for their final resting place. If we put a uniformed officer in command of Arlington National Cemetery, then that officer will be held accountable to the exact same standards as the heroes buried at Arlington once were; that is the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The men and women of our all-volunteer force who fall in combat, and those who serve and who choose to be buried at Arlington, deserve the honor of having a uniformed commanding officer to watch over them as they rest, to set and enforce a standard of military excellence and commitment, honor and integrity that only those serving in uniform can fully comprehend.

Folks, these are our Nation's heroes. We owe them nothing less, especially in light of the problems that we've had there at Arlington. So I urge my colleagues to support this amendment, to put back in place the distinction and the honor deserved by our men and women who have so honorably served this Nation.

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