Most of us remember the national outrage when it was reported in June that the Arlington National Cemetery had misplaced or misidentified more than 200 grave sites. I was reminded that the situation is still simmering when I read today in the Federal News Radio’s DoD Report that workers at Arlington National Cemetery are to receive formal training for the first time.
Some might find it hard to believe that workers at our National Cemetery have never before received any training. Up until now the cemetery workers have received on-the-job training, which under certain circumstances, is a good way to learn. Some of us at one time have received effective on-the-job training.
Apparently, John C. Metzler Jr., the former superintendent and his deputy Thurman Higginbotham, paid millions of dollars to digitize its paper record system but had nothing to show from the effort. As most of us suspect, it has been reported that the problem is very likely much deeper than what we know and I suspect a lot of finger pointing is going on right now.
According to an article written by Christian Davenport of the Washington Post on October 21st, the appointment of Patrick K. Halliman, who has been acting superintendent at Arlington, has now been appointed to the position permanently. One of his top priorities is the task of updating the antiquated paper record system and fixing the discrepancies. One might also wonder what happened to the millions of dollars spent on the original effort.
A bill has been introduced by senators Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) to call for a study into whether authority over the cemetery should be transferred to the VA. Some veterans groups believe this is long overdue. The bill would also require the Army to provide Congress with a full accounting of all the grave sites at Arlington.
Here’s the link to the Washington Post article if you’d like to read it