Executive Director of Army National Military Cemeteries, Karen Durham-Aguilera and Arlington National Cemetery Superintendent, Katharine Kelley testified before a House Armed Services Committee Military Personnel Subcommittee hearing this morning at the Rayburn House Office Building to discuss the future capacity and eligibility of our nation’s most sacred shrine.
“Without changes to the current eligibility requirements and physical footprint, Arlington National Cemetery will not be a burial option for most who served in the Gulf War – or any conflict since – regardless of their contribution, achievements, or valor,” stated Durham-Aguilera.
Cemetery leadership took the next step in a phased approach to educate the American people about the crossroads the cemetery currently faces. The Executive Director and Superintendent discussed the results of the National Dialogue survey, done in partnership with Military and Veteran Service Organizations and shared publicly, which was the catalyst of much of the discussion.
Some of the facts from the 28,000+ respondents include:
Respondents stated ANC is a symbol of military service and sacrifice.
93 percent of respondents felt ANC should be an active burial cemetery well into the future.
52 percent of those respondents understood the need to expand where possible
and to limit eligibility when needed.
Participants voiced their opinions on which groups of veterans should remain eligible for ANC – should eligibility be restricted in order to preserve the cemetery for generations to come.
“Our survey results had three themes," testified Kelley. “To ensure the public understood the challenge; that respondents wanted to keep the cemetery open and active well into the future; and for those who thought we should address eligibility, there was a near unanimous support for KIAs, Medal of Honor and high award recipients, former POWs, and active duty who perish in training or operational accidents to remain eligible.”
Arlington National Cemetery will initiate a second survey, again with the assistance of The Advisory Committee on Arlington National Cemetery and Military and Veteran Service Organizations, by the end of this month that will further provide public input and inform our future recommendations.
Arlington National Cemetery invites everyone to participate and continue the robust and candid national dialogue. The survey will be located on the cemetery’s website in the coming weeks. Please visit: www.arlingtoncemetery.mil for more information.