VA National Cemeteries: Honoring Veterans, caring for families in their time of need


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Dallas Fort Worth National Cemetery memorial service.

VA is dedicated to ensuring our nation’s Veterans and eligible family members receive a timely and dignified burial in honor of their service and sacrifice.  Due to our dedicated workforce, VA’s National Cemetery Administration (NCA) has been recognized repeatedly for outstanding customer service on behalf of Veterans and their families.  Unfortunately, the recent Stars and Stripes article from November 21, 2014, “Burial Delays Prompt Push for VA Oversight in Congress” leaves an incorrect perception about interment delays at VA national cemeteries.

There is no wait time for burial in a VA national cemetery beyond a day or two depending on demand at each cemetery.  Once VA establishes a Veteran or family member’s eligibility for burial, the Veteran’s next of kin or authorized representative can schedule an interment service with us.  Establishment of eligibility and scheduling of burials takes approximately 10 minutes if the requestor can provide discharge documents, or if VA can find discharge documents in our electronic systems.  If necessary to help establish eligibility, VA conducts research to retrieve the discharge documents that usually takes no more than 48 hours.  There are instances when eligibility determinations for the Veteran’s burial in a national cemetery are requested but the burial is not scheduled. In this instance, NCA follows up every 30 days in an effort to ensure scheduling of the interment.  In no instance has a Veteran or eligible family member waited to be buried because of an untimely response from NCA.

R5The situation in Los Angeles County referenced in the article was upsetting and unfortunate.  Our nation’s Veterans deserved better.  I can report that many of these Veterans are now interred at Riverside National Cemetery and received the military honors they deserved.

As reported in the Los Angeles Times this past May, the issue in L.A. County involved local internal processes, which resulted in delayed requests for interment of unclaimed Veterans’ remains at a VA national cemetery.  Once L.A. County leadership resolved this issue, VA worked quickly to ensure dignified interments of these Veterans. VA works regularly with funeral directors, coroners and morgues, including those in L.A. County, to establish eligibility and arrange for burial of unclaimed Veterans.

VA is committed to providing world class service for Veterans in their time of need in fulfillment of President Lincoln’s promise “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.”


Ron WaltersRon Walters is the Acting Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs and also serves as the director of the Office of Finance and Planning for the National Cemetery Administration.

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Ron Walters

Comments

  1. Roberto Obong    

    The VA is gradually changing for the better and pushing towards excellence in caring for our fellow Veterans. When I first left the Service in 1993, I did not know how any comp & pen process goes or the existence of the VA.We were not informed of any of our VA benefits. To date, such matters have changed into a more informative way, not perfect but its a better process.

    More changes and challenges are on the way with the new Secretary of the VA with hopes for leadership, transparency, consistency and perhaps a Veteran/patient centric environment on all VA facilities nationwide.

    A tough job for a tough soldier!

  2. Victor LaBella    

    I am Director of Services at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, currently the home of the Honor Guard team that will be directly involved in the functions and ceremonies at the “new” VA National Cemetary in Pembroke, NY presently in the pre-construction/planning phase. We need to have an sit-down meeting.

  3. Sally Ward    

    I will say that the VA at Bushnell did an outstanding job for my parents in all respects, from counseling my mother on types of graves when my father died until last year when my mother was buried.

  4. Jim    

    We all know the VA has problems. I also know there are good people in the VA that are working hard to resolve some of those problems. I do think that when something is wrong in the VA it should be brought to lite, that’s the only way things are going to get fixed but at the same time the VA doesn’t need bad press that doesn’t tell the whole story and it just out there to tear the VA down. Fixing the problems in the VA is going to be a time consuming task and I think the VA needs our support. Fix the things that are wrong but commend the VA for the things it does right too.

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