WASHINGTON — The Army and the Veterans Affairs Department have entered into a formal agreement that will allow Arlington National Cemetery employees to enroll in VA’s National Cemetery Administration Training Center, Army Secretary John M. McHugh announced yesterday.
VA has operated the center since 2004, providing training and professional development to employees who manage and operate national cemeteries.
The top two officials in charge of Arlington National Cemetery were relieved of their duties and disciplined earlier this year after an Army investigation found the cemetery’s management to be dysfunctional. An Army inspector general report identified 76 separate deficiencies, including poor record keeping that allowed occupied gravesites to be improperly marked or often not marked at all.
“While Arlington National Cemetery’s unique military mission sets us apart from other national cemeteries, we are committed to learning from and partnering with experts in cemetery administration to improve overall operations,” McHugh said in announcing the training agreement. “With 131 cemeteries nationwide, VA has tremendous experience in day-to-day cemetery operations, and we believe this unique professional development opportunity will help our employees develop the skills needed to better meet their mission.”
The VA training center emphasizes technical, supervisory and leadership training for employees ranging from supervisors and equipment operators to groundskeepers and cemetery representatives, officials said. The center also offers training to state veteran cemetery employees to assist them in meeting national shrine standards at their local facilities.
“Both VA and the Army share an obligation to honor all who have served and sacrificed for their country,” Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said. “VA will continue to assist the Army and provide access to our expertise in cemetery operations and systems.”
McHugh also announced that Patrick Hallinan, the former director of field programs for VA’s National Cemetery Administration Training Center, has been selected as Arlington National Cemetery’s superintendent. Hallinan was named acting superintendent June 10, and was named permanently to the position Oct. 10.
“Pat Hallinan’s unique experience in national cemetery management, combined with his proven leadership and ability, made him the only choice possible for this important job,” McHugh said. “I have every confidence in Pat and Executive Director Kathryn Condon to strengthen management and oversight, and restore America’s confidence in the operation of this most hallowed ground.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)