The official blog of American Veteran Magazine, the national quarterly publication of AMVETS.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

AMVETS to Give Oral Testimony at Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Oversight Hearing

Today, at 2:30 PM EST, Ms. Christina M. Roof, AMVETS National Acting Legislative Director, will give testimony during the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Oversight Hearing entitled, “Arlington National Cemetery: An Update from the New Administration.”

The Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, has legislative, oversight and investigative jurisdiction over compensation; general and special pensions of all the wars of the United States; life insurance issued by the Government on account of service in the Armed Forces; cemeteries of the United States in which veterans of any war or conflict are or may be buried, whether in the United States or abroad, except cemeteries administered by the Secretary of the Interior; burial benefits; the Board of Veterans' Appeals; and the Court of Appeals for Veterans' Claims.

In June 2010, the Army released a report from its inspector general that found widespread problems at the Arlington National Cemetery, including 211 graves that were unmarked or mislabeled on cemetery maps and at least four urns that had been unearthed and dumped in landfill piles. The probe also found that cemetery officials with limited expertise in federal contracting regulations and little outside supervision improperly paid millions of dollars to companies that failed to create a digital database of the cemetery's records. Since that time, a new administration has taken charge of the cemetery's affairs and are now conducting a hearing to solicit feedback from and share updates with those the cemetery's former mismanagement directly affects - veterans and their families.

During the hearing, Ms. Roof will share AMVETS' views and recommendations regarding the Army Office of the Inspector General's detailed investigation into the activities of Arlington National Cemetery last year.

Here is an excerpt from her prepared statement:

"AMVETS was saddened and upset over the numerous disgraceful wrongdoings the IG outlined in their report. Furthermore, AMVETS is still at a loss for words as to how Arlington National Cemetery's sacred grounds could have ever been so blatantly mismanaged in a way that showed absolutely no respect or care for the remains of this nation’s fallen heroes. While AMVETS is eager to read the IG’s follow-up report to the investigation, we still believe that we must voice the concerns, recommendations and problems experienced by our membership last year, if only in an effort to give our members the comfort of knowing their experiences are understood. Moreover, AMVETS believes that it is important to preface our statement with the fact they we are not aware of all of the improvements already in place at Arlington National Cemetery, as we too are awaiting the Army’s new report. However, the concerns we share with you today are still just as important and personal as they were one year ago."

Ms. Roof went on to say that the happenings at the cemetery were a direct result of mismanagement, outdated technology and a blatant insubordination of Army Regulation 25-30,issued in 2006. Many AMVETS members are concerned whether their loved ones are being properly cared for at the cemetery and what measures have been taken to prevent further problems and confusion.

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