USA — Army Announces Changes at Arlington National Cemetery

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)

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