This past weekend I received a packet from the executive director of Arlington National Cemetery. The packet contained the following information:
1. A letter from the executive director
2. Call Center Family Concern Form
3. Next of Kin Phone Call Return Script
4. Phone Call Return Script Voice Mail
5. Checklist from their investigation
6. Record of Internment 1
7. Record of Internment 2
8. Decedent Information Intake Form
9. 3 Photos of his grave stone
As I reviewed the records, essentially, they matched his name to a identification number. This number then was matched to the parcel, and the parcel was matched to the master map of the burial plots. At this point, all seemed in order, until I reviewed the Decedent Information Intake Form.
The form was dated 11/30/2006 and was partially completed. In addition, the form had major misinformation. Most alarming was the funeral home section which had a location of a funeral home in Oaklawn, IL and the receiving funeral home as Arlington National Cemetery. The fact is the funeral was Heitger Funeral Services located in Jackson Township, Ohio and the receiving funeral was a funeral home in DC that we are trying to locate.
Yesterday, I had a phone conversation with the Executive Director,Kathryn Condon. I shared the information, I had discovered and she was concerned at the level if inaccuracy in the report and assured me that I would know without a doubt were my son is buried. She is very passionate about restoring the dignity to Arlington National Cemetery. She wants to talk to the families and hear our concerns and make changes. I asked her if she had read my op-ed which she said yes. I told her I would like to be part of the solution and recommended that a panel be formed by family members that she would meet with periodically to get feedback on the cemetery operations.
At this point, further investigation will need to take place to verify if Heath is actually buried were his marker is located. It's a challenging time and could consume you. I will continue to update the public as I learn more. My goal is that maybe by sharing our story and being part of the solution, another family will not have to go through this ordeal.