McCaskill backs legislation for Arlington National Cemetary oversight

Eight cremated remains were found in one burial site marked 'unknown.'

The United States Senate passed legislation to increase oversight at Arlington National Cemetery after eight cremated remains were found under one gravesite marked 'unknown.'

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., backed the legislation, which passed on Dec. 4.

Senators Scott Brown, R-Mass., Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Richard Burr, R-N.C., also worked with McCaskill on the legislation.

According to a news release from McCaskill's office, the legislation would require the Secretary of the Army to report to Congress on the cemetery's ability to verify its information pertaining to each gravesite and on its progress in changing management and oversight. The legislation would also require the Government Accountability Office to report on the management and contracts regarding various operations at the Cemetery.

McCaskill is chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight that held a meeting July 29 to look into contract mismanagement that lead to headstone mistakes and incorrect burials at the Arlington National Cemetery, as well as potential fraud and millions of dollars wasted, according to a news release.

"I am outraged at the problems that continue to surface at Arlington Cemetery," McCaskill said in the news release. "The families that have loved ones at Arlington Cemetery deserve so much better than this. These are our heroes. This is the most sacred ground we have in the United States, and we've got to make sure we have the appropriate oversight."

The Arlington National Cemetery issued a statement on Dec. 4 detailing the ongoing investigations as a result of their errors this year.

"In late October, the Executive Director of the Army National Cemeteries Program, Kathryn Condon, became aware of questionable practices that took place at Arlington National Cemetery and requested that the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command open an investigation into allegations involving multiple burials of cremated remains in a single location," according to Arlington's statement.

It was then discovered that eight unmarked cremated remains were all buried under one grave marked "unknown." But Arlington records showed only one set of cremated remains was to be buried there.

Three of the eight unknown cremated remains have been identified. The cemetery is in the process of notifying families of the situation.

In Arlington National Cemetery's statement, the Criminal Investigation Command will be considering all evidence regarding improper burials. They are working on identifying the other five cremated remains.

"The leadership of Arlington National Cemetery and the Army take these matters seriously and are fully committed to taking the necessary actions to restore the integrity of Arlington National Cemetery," the Arlington National Cemetary said in the statement.

John Picray, member of the Mizzou Student Veterans Association and former member of the Navy, said it is more important to worry about correcting the mistakes that were made in these situations.

"For me, it's never so much about the mistake," he said. "It's more so about the actions taken to correct the mistake."

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