Published March 08, 2012
WASHINGTON – The Veterans Affairs Department has found 102 more misplaced headstones or markers and 21 graves missing markers in cemeteries under its management.
The department now has audited about half of the graves under its management, or nearly 1.5 million graves. The total number of problems discovered has grown to 249 with the latest update.
Glenn Powers, a deputy undersecretary with the VA's National Cemetery Administration, said the number of discrepancies was small but unacceptable.
"We will make appropriate notifications to those family members that we can contact and, in keeping with our culture of accountability and continuous management improvement, fix the issues," Powers said in a statement Wednesday.
In late January, VA officials notified Congress that it had discovered problems with some gravesites where contractors had undertaken renovations and had shifted the markers one grave space away from the correct site. In eight cases, people were buried at the wrong site.
This time, the vast majority of mistakes occurred when headstones were temporarily removed during second interments and not put back on the proper gravesite. Those mistakes took place primarily in California, at San Francisco National Cemetery and Golden Gate National Cemetery.
The VA said the first phase of its review is now complete and involved reviewing those gravesites where there had been renovations and where there was the highest risk for error. The second phase will focus on 1.6 million remaining gravesites under the department's management.
VA officials were to explain their audit in greater detail Thursday at a House subcommittee hearing.