As I indicated in the article in the Canton Repository recently, my wife, Melissa, and I new since last summer that there was an investigation regarding some of the graves at Arlinton National Cemetery. We were not told formally by the cemetery administration, but we heard through our informal network of friends associated with the cemetery. At that time we were told Section 60 was not one of the sections involved in the investigation.
To my surprise, the first I heard that the investigation was complete was through a reporter who had called an asked me to make a statement about the situation. At that point, I said I would get back to him and I contacted my friends who directed me to the live press conference. I learned the investigation had been concluded and there were 211 graves that had been improperly marked or were unmarked and Section 60 were my son was laid to rest was involved.
I was completely caught off guard by this for several reasons. First of all, we had never been notified directly that an investigation was taking place and that it had been completed through the cemetery adminstration. Secondly, the number of graves involved were significantly higher, 211, instead of a few graves which is what was making it's rounds through our informal network. Lastly, that the investigation included several graves from Section 60 which included the section where our son was buried. This is completely unbelieveable, unfortunate and not acceptable that a loved one should have to wonder if the grave their loved one is buried at is actually their loved one's grave.
ENSURING THE DIGNITY OF OHIO'S FALLEN SOLDIERS
I was contacted by Congressman Boccieri if I would support his requests for a review and audit of the policies at Ohio’s National Cemeteries. The press release below presents the official comments from the Congressman's office in which I did make a state of support for this review. I ask for your aupport of this effort. If this can happen at Arlington National Cemetery it can happen at any of our National Miliatary Cemeteries.
OFFICE OF U.S. CONGRESSMAN JOHN BOCCIERI
For Immediate Release
Friday, June 18, 2010
Contact: Jessica Kershaw
ENSURING THE DIGNITY OF OHIO’S FALLEN SOLDIERS
WASHINGTON, OH – Although a Canton family’s son who served in Iraq and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery is not one of the hundreds of graves under review, U.S. Congressman John Boccieri (D-Alliance), a military member himself, today requested a review of Ohio’s national cemeteries. The audit and review asks that soldiers buried in Ohio’s cemeteries are treated with the utmost respect, in light of an Army Inspector Generals’ report showing hundreds of mismarked or unmarked graves at Arlington National Cemetery.
In his letter to Acting Under Secretary of Memorial Affairs Steve Muro, Boccieri requests a review and audit of the policies at Ohio’s national cemeteries which include the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery, located within the 16th congressional district, and the Dayton National Cemetery.
Boccieri says, “I am writing you today in memory of the fallen soldiers from Ohio who earned the right to be laid to rest in our state’s national cemeteries and to request your assistance in assuring that these sacred places honor their memories…I know we both share a deep commitment to honoring the memories of the brave men and women who have served our great nation, and I look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure their final resting places are those of enduring dignity.”
Scott Warner, father of fallen Iraq War veteran Heath Warner who is from Canton and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, supports Boccieri’s effort to ensure the dignity of soldiers at Ohio’s national cemeteries. He said, “No family should be wondering if the grave of their loved one is mismarked or unmarked. I believe it would be prudent that our national military cemeteries review their policies, procedures, and they have the technology to keep an accurate accounting of our buried military.”
Boccieri’s Letter to the Acting Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs is Below:
Friday, June 18, 2010
Under Secretary Steve Muro
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420
Dear Secretary Muro,
I am writing you today in memory of the fallen soldiers from Ohio who earned the right to be laid to rest in our state’s national cemeteries and to request your assistance in assuring that these sacred places honor their memories.
As you know, it is a great comfort and honor to our nation’s soldiers and their families when a veteran is laid to rest at one of our national cemeteries. Unfortunately, according to a recent report from the Army Inspector General, hundreds of graves at Arlington National Cemetery have been mismarked, unmarked or moved without notifying the families of the soldiers.
Like many across our nation, I was deeply disturbed and angered with the mismanagement that allowed this tragic situation to occur. While the mismanagement that led to these unacceptable circumstances has been dealt with swiftly at Arlington Cemetery, more must be done to restore confidence in our national cemetery system.
While I believe the men and women working at Ohio’s cemeteries are as committed as I am to honoring the memory of our fallen heroes, now is the time for a thorough review of the policies at Ohio’s national cemeteries. That is why I am requesting a review and audit of the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery and Dayton National Cemetery —to verify that they have not been subject to similar discrepancies and confusion.
I appreciate your attentiveness to this matter. I know we both share a deep commitment to honoring the memories of the brave men and women who have served our great nation, and I look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure their final resting places are those of enduring dignity.
Member of Congress