Call center opens for Arlington questions

June 11, 2010 at 9:30 AM
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ARLINGTON, Va., June 11 (UPI) -- A call center for people concerned about burials at Arlington National Cemetery opened Friday, a day after a report alleged misconduct at the cemetery.

The cemetery's Web site has this number for "questions or concerns" about burials: 703-607-8199

In a document revealed Thursday, Army investigators at the cemetery reported finding more than 100 unmarked graves, gravesites with headstones not recorded on cemetery maps and at least four burial urns that were dumped in an area where excess grave dirt is kept, The Washington Post reported Friday.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh announced a number of reforms at Arlington, a reprimand for the cemetery's outgoing superintendent, John C. Metzler Jr. and the placement of deputy superintendent Thurman Higginbotham on administrative leave. McHugh appointed Kathryn Condon, a veteran civilian Army executive, to the new post of executive director of the new Army National Cemeteries Program. She will supervise Metzler until he retires.

McHugh said he and Lt. Gen R. Steven Whitcomb, the Army inspector general, found Arlington employees "performed their jobs with dedication and to a high professional standard; they were hampered by dysfunctional management, the lack of established policy and procedures and an overall unhealthy organizational climate."

The Department of Defense said a bipartisan commission will look into charges of faulty management at the nation's most recognizable cemetery. The commission includes two former U.S. senators who are also decorated U.S. military veterans -- Bob Dole of Kansas, a Republican, and Max Cleland of Georgia, a Democrat.

McHugh and Whitcomb said they found nothing intentional or criminal in the problems at Arlington.

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