A representative from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced this weekend at the American Legion national convention being held in Milwaukee that the department would be willing to take control of the neglected Arlington National Cemetery.
Veterans groups and Congress have asked the department to take over management of the massive military cemetery in Virginia, which is currently being run by the Army. Earlier this year, an internal Army investigation found more than 100 unmarked graves at the cemetery, numerous burials not marked on official maps and even several cremation urns that had been dumped in a dirt pile.
Investigators concluded the problems were caused by sloppy management at the cemetery. The Army announced a new director to lead the cemetery and other reforms, but that wasn’t enough for most veterans groups, according to The Washington Post. They say the Army ignored warnings for years that the cemetery was being neglected.
On Saturday, David Schettler, chief spokesman’s for the Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration, told Legion members at the Milwaukee convention he’s “not aware of any detailed talks” on taking over the cemetery “but we would be prepared to take on (management of Arlington) if given to us and funded properly.”
The convention runs until Thursday. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is expected to speak at the convention today on the war in Iraq and other national security issues. The Legion also reported on Monday that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would also be addressing veterans but didn’t say when. A convention schedule posted online doesn’t provide times, either.