The National Cemetery Administration graduated 13 members of the Cemetery Director Intern Class of 2017 on July 13. The new directors will arrive at their duty stations the week of Aug. 6.
The Cemetery Director Intern Program offers individuals interested in becoming a cemetery director the opportunity to gain the fundamental skills needed to start those individuals on their career path. The program is designed to develop and refine competencies leading to the establishment of highly trained and qualified personnel prepared to assume cemetery director positions. Each cemetery director intern was also assigned a mentor to guide them on day-to-day cemetery operations. They also conducted hands-on projects and corresponding coursework.
According to Jennifer Dehorty, the assistant director of the Tahoma National Cemetery, becoming a cemetery director is about giving back to Veterans and most importantly their families.
“The program is great for people who want to serve Veterans and their families,” Dehorty said. “I love helping people, so becoming a cemetery director is a natural fit. We also get to interact with the Veterans’ loved ones and families by providing them a lasting tribute. As a Veteran who served 32-years in the Army, it is a great honor to take care of my fellow Vets.”
While assigned to the National Training Center in St. Louis, Missouri, class members were assigned to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery to set headstones and markers; maintained turf grass, shrubs, trees, equipment, and monuments; conducted interments and represented NCA to families before, during and after committal services. They also traveled to Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minnesota to learn techniques required for effective winter operations.
The graduates accepted assignments to cemeteries throughout the country. The newly qualified cemetery directors are:
- Roshanda Bost, assistant director, Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery
- Rachel Charles, assistant director, National Cemetery Arizona
- Jennifer Dehorty, assistant director, Tahoma National Cemetery
- Daniel Ferguson, assistant director, Zachary Taylor National Cemetery
- Wayne Goddard, assistant director, Sacramento Valley National Cemetery
- Perry Heard, assistant director, Fort Logan National Cemetery
- Antonio Henderson, assistant director, Camp Butler National Cemetery
- Christopher Hickey, assistant director, Rock Island National Cemetery
- Elvin Hughes, assistant director, Barrancas National Cemetery
- Christopher Morris, assistant director, Quantico National Cemetery
- Matthew Priest, director, Culpeper National Cemetery
- Kevin Ridgeway, assistant director, South Florida National Cemetery
- Jerome Smith, assistant director, Black Hills National Cemetery
Eleven of this year’s graduates are Veterans who represent the Army, Marine Corps and Air Force. All 13 were selected from within VA agencies. NCA recently selected nine new interns for the program, with new participants scheduled to report to the NTC for Cemetery Director Intern Class of 2018 in September.
Shawn Graham is a public affairs specialist for the National Cemetery Administration.