By Christian Davenport
The chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs called Thursday for a complete review of all 131 military cemeteries run by the Department of Veterans Affairs, where more than 3.7 million service members and their families are buried.
The move by Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., comes two days after the VA revealed that it had found more than 100 misplaced headstones and at least eight cases of people buried in the wrong places at several of its cemeteries across the country. The VA is in the process of returning those remains to the proper grave sites.
The problems, reported Monday by The Washington Post, largely occurred when workers temporarily removed headstones and markers from the ground during renovation projects and then reinserted them in the wrong places, VA officials said.
In his statement, Miller said the committee would be investigating "the extent of these problems."
He also said the VA must "put in place the proper oversight and procedures while renovations are taking place at its cemeteries around the country to ensure further graves are not disturbed. Irrevocable pain has been caused to the families of our veterans affected by these mistakes, and I don't want one more family to have to endure a second burial again."
The VA's audit, which was ordered in October, included only sections of cemeteries that had undergone renovations in the past decade. In all, the VA is checking 1.3 million grave sites in 85 of its 131 cemeteries. After the review is completed, VA officials had said they would conduct a more thorough audit of all of its cemeteries.
The most serious problems were found at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, where 47 grave markers were put one place over from where they were supposed to be. As a result, four people were buried in the wrong spots. Similar problems were found at Houston National Cemetery.