That will never excuse, however, the indescribable pain endured by the affected families of the fallen who had to experience, again, the interment of their loved ones as cemetery officials replaced and appropriately marked misplaced remains.
We must, therefore, remain vigilant in our oversight in order to prevent further mishaps at Arlington and throughout VA’s National Cemetery Administration (NCA).
The committee has therefore called on VA and the NCA to complete a full audit of over 3 million veterans’ gravesites at all 131 NCA cemeteries across the country. We are personally horrified these mistakes have occurred and will investigate how these problems happened in the first place. We will also take the appropriate steps to ensure VA puts the proper procedures and oversight in place so that this too never happens again.
When we examined what happened at Arlington, we learned that the system was fraught with poor record keeping, inept processes, and a general laziness—characteristics that do not uphold the respect and dignity owed our veterans. We cannot let that happen again at any one of veteran cemeteries.
Although the NCA has long upheld the highest of standards for caring for our veterans unparalleled in the VA system—which gives us comfort that they will overcome this—the families of those affected must be assured immediately that their loved one is at peace immediately.
We wish to extend our deepest sympathies to the families of those affected by these circumstances. Their loved ones fought for this country, and many lost their lives doing so. We must never forget that we owe a debt which can never be repaid—which is why we must strive for perfection on their behalf.
Rep. Miller (R-Fla.) is chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Rep. Runyan (R-N.J.) is chairman of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee.