Graves misidentified at VA cemeteries
Dayton National Cemetery in Ohio
January 24th, 2012
01:37 PM ET

Graves misidentified at VA cemeteries

From CNN National Security Producer Jennifer Rizzo

More than 120 graves in military cemeteries across the country are misidentified, the Department of Veterans Affairs said Tuesday.

At least 115 headstones were found to be misaligned, meaning they were set over the wrong grave, according to the department, and eight people were buried in the wrong spot.

The review was ordered in October by the National Cemetery Administration (NCA), which oversees the military cemeteries, after workers at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas, discovered that 47 headstones were in the wrong spot. All were one grave away from where they were supposed to be.

Due to the misalignment, four people at the Texas cemetery were buried in the wrong grave. Deceased family members, such as a husband and wife, are often buried together in the same plot. But since the markers were off, the four people were buried with strangers.

"VA discovered this issue ourselves as a part of regular operations and took corrective action," VA said in a statement. "NCA strives for accuracy in its service to all veterans and their family members, and deeply regrets the errors which have occurred."

The four misplaced graves at the Fort Sam Houston cemetery have since been relocated to the correct grave sites, one spot over.

Two other graves were in the wrong sites at the Dayton National Cemetery in Ohio, and one each at the Houston National Cemetery in Texas and the Santa Fe National Cemetery in New Mexico, the review showed. The NCA is in the process of notifying Congress and the families of those people so that their relocation can begin.

In all, 1.3 million headstones and markers were audited at 85 VA national cemeteries and one Confederate Cemetery from the Civil War. The discrepancies found amounted to less than 1% of those reviewed.

The cemeteries reviewed were chosen because they had undergone renovation projects to "raise and realign" headstones and markers in the past 10 years.

Errors at VA cemeteries, the department said, were made primarily by contractors who were conducting regular maintenance on the grave sites, and not by VA employees. Due to natural erosion, headstones are replaced when they are cracked or damaged, and realigned over the grave when soil shifts over time. Headstones were not put back in the correct spot during these maintenance operations in the cases where the errors were found, the department said.

In the future, when headstones are raised from graves for realignment, they will stay at the grave site instead of being moved to another location to prevent these errors, VA said.

The historic Arlington National Cemetery, which is run by the Army, has been engulfed in scandal since 2010, when it was discovered that there were hundreds of mismarked graves, burial urns put in a spillage pile, and missing burial records. The problems were blamed on a dysfunctional management team, missing documents, and poor record-keeping.

The Department of Veterans Affairs currently maintains 3.1 million graves in 131 cemeteries. The cemeteries not reviewed in the current report will be audited in the future, the department said.

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Filed under: Military
soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. Theresa Bulock

    I believe they're should be a high respect of our Military people cuz they gave everything to protect us. And also know a Cemetary that has many secrets. I found an area in this Cemetary that has a revien and engraved Headstones up against the retaining wall jus sitting there, unearthed

    January 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Reply
    • Theresa Bulock

      And what's worse is some of them are our Military and their name and service and their dates are also there. I brought this to that local paper but nothing was done and that was sic yes ago now and compaired to six yrs ago there are many more unearthed and displaced Headstones. One is of an infant. Deep in this revien were bones of what looked Like and infant babys remains and way above was the displaced Headstone of an infant. Please someone help these people maintain their dignenty. Contact me at t_resa_ma@hotmail.com

      January 25, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Reply
      • Michael Ellis

        I've been a memorialist for many years. I am also a college graduate. I praise your efforts to bring awareness to this issue. However, your lack of respect towards proper grammar and spelling only disrespects the honor of those who died for our freedom. Please enlist the help of someone who can rectify this issue that you seem to be having with your spelling and grammar.

        March 21, 2012 at 1:46 am |
  2. CraigM

    These VA Cemetary Administrators and many of there underlynings all need to be in jail.......what a sorry group of human beings.

    January 25, 2012 at 7:23 am | Reply
  3. jayman419

    You wouldn't think properly marking a grave would be so difficult. A 1 percent error rate is more than a hundred incidents too many.

    January 25, 2012 at 2:17 am | Reply
  4. nocemeteries

    Memorial gardens are way to go. Cemeteries are a waste of land.

    January 25, 2012 at 2:14 am | Reply
  5. dogtags

    What about the ones that went to a landfill in Virginia?? Are they accounted for?

    January 25, 2012 at 1:39 am | Reply
    • GoRemote

      It wasn't whole people.....Just tiny parts that were recovered after the body had been buried........

      January 25, 2012 at 2:07 am | Reply
    • FluffyNipper

      The body bits that ended up in landfills were placed there by the DoD, not by the VA.

      January 25, 2012 at 3:13 am | Reply
  6. Hubert39

    At least all the bodies are in a military cemetery and not MIA. Or buried in another country. They are all one. Just vist a cemetery and say thank you for defending the USA during WW II. All of our wars after WWII we started. And I do feel sorry for our troops that were drafted, and fought in Korea and Vietnam. All the rest were volunteers. They liked the military lfe..and their is nothing wrong with being in the military. Have a few friends kids who are in the military and they love it.

    January 25, 2012 at 12:31 am | Reply
  7. Peaceword

    . . . Romney's GOP people say the Cement & Limestone grave markers crack with weather & do not last as long as cheaper clear plastic "Lexan" grave markers that Romney's GOP people want to use after he is elected.
    . . .I'd like some proof of this & just how these cheap plastic GOP grave markers will serve Vets in the hereafter.

    January 25, 2012 at 12:09 am | Reply
  8. Sgt. Fury

    When William Calley dies, I hope he winds up in a correctly marked VA cemetery, so I can find it quickly when I have to take a screaming shit. Wa-hoooooo!!!!!!

    January 25, 2012 at 12:01 am | Reply
  9. Brian

    If you think this is bad try using a VA hospital. It's third world medicine. While there I asked a doctor about getting an MRI. He said "the MRI is just an expensive toy; we don't use them here." Yet, I read that veterinarians are now using the MRI to treat dogs.

    January 24, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Reply
    • kateslate

      Sorry, but this is not true. My father, brother, sister, and two uncles have received top notch care in the VA system. Perhaps your symptoms just did not warrant an MRI at that time and have a hard time accepting it.

      January 25, 2012 at 12:18 am | Reply
    • Bob

      Lies.

      While I'm not enamored of the primary care system the VA has ( too few doctors and too many patients ), nor with the turnover in the specialists ( I never saw the same Orthopedic Surgeon twice ), they do indeed use MRI, and even that newfangled thing XRay ... it's amazing. {/snark}

      And as far as ER care goes, I'll put my VA in Manchester, NH up against any other emergency room for efficiency, attention to detail, and concern for their patients.

      January 25, 2012 at 12:42 am | Reply
      • David

        I've been to the VA hospital in Manchester, it really isn't that bad.

        January 25, 2012 at 3:55 am |
    • Wayne

      HEY........what countries V.A. were you using ????? I have had top notch excellent care over the last four years in the Boise Idaho VA hospital and the ongoing care of its Doctors and Nurses....if not for those professionals I would have been in the ground a long time ago.

      January 25, 2012 at 1:25 am | Reply
    • Angela Birch

      Sorry Brian. My father had an MRI at the VA hospital last March. He also had one from the VA about 2 years ago. The cost of the MRI is in buying the Machine they are very expensive. Using them really costs very little. My father who is now 97 Says thecare in the Va haspital is better than the Loma Linda hospital.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:30 am | Reply
    • Jason

      Brian,
      My V.A in Wisconsin has them. I've had MRI'S before from them and I'm actually getting one February 15th. If your Doctor didn't think there was a reason for one of course he wouldn't give you one. It's a waste of time,money, and wasted slot for someone that needs one.

      January 25, 2012 at 3:17 am | Reply
  10. Sanchanim

    It is sad, but if they are fixing it then it is ok. Don't ever doubt that it is not ok!! I don't care how much it costs to fix it, these guys gave it all for us, so they deserve the best. Period end of story... I don't care what anyone else thinks.. Their loved ones deserve the best, and our support and admiration. If you haven't been in the trenches and been their F*** You!!! you have no right to post or say anything... I have been there, I have held an 18 year old in my arms with his guts spilled out over my legs. they deserve our support and anything else we can give them period. you don't have to agree with the war but you better damn support those that gave the ultimate sacrifice including their families.

    January 24, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Reply
    • kateslate

      Yes we should. This is so true. We need to give everything to those who gave everything.

      January 25, 2012 at 12:19 am | Reply
  11. john cougar mellencamp

    I think brad is a 13 year old person looking for rise out of everybody. I really think he is getting a rise out of our attention just like spanking the monkey in a circlejerk convention. Whoops, I dont mean to be a hypocrite.

    January 24, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Reply
  12. john cougar mellencamp

    I'm so sorry, milady. Maybe Brad is a black coffee drinker. Black or white a veteran should be respected, not reviled.

    January 24, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Reply
    • Sgt. Fury

      I think Brad is a black cock smoker. Wa-hoooooo!!!!!!

      January 24, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Reply
  13. Kent Bowen

    I understand that there are 150 families that are upset, but there are 10s of thousands of military burials/headstones out there. When my Dad died, a veteran of WWII, I supervised his burial and placement of his VA marker. I bear the responsibility of any mistakes.

    January 24, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Reply
  14. MERUNCC13

    All sniping aside – at least the VA is trying to correct the situation. I have a grandfather buried in a VA cemetary in Ohio and I hope that his headstone is on the correct grave. If they need an summer intern to help with identifing graves and markers, I would put my resume in (History Major @ UNC-Charlotte).

    January 24, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Reply
  15. john cougar mellencamp

    I am appalled at Brad's remark. You sound like a spoiled ignorant tea party W.A.S.P.

    January 24, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Reply
    • flstarlady

      Leave the tea party WASP stuff out, ignorant & spoiled do just fine.

      January 24, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Reply
  16. Bobby

    What difference does it make? Don't waste my tax money on this crap.

    January 24, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Reply
    • Tr1Xen

      You, sir, are a thankless f***head.

      January 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Reply
    • Tr1Xen

      And never mind the fact that a lot of those people died defending your freedom. In some countries, you'd be executed for what you just said, but thanks to the sacrifices of these men and women, you have the right to be as much of a prick as you want to be.

      January 24, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Reply
    • duckforcover

      I don't know where your grave will be but I'm certain where your soul will be.

      January 24, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Reply
  17. KR

    VA is now overseeing these military cemeteries. I'm not saying what happened is right, just that VA is trying to correct a problem that existed before VA took oversight responsibilities for these military cemeteries.

    January 24, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Reply
    • Brad T.

      Who cares? The military is comprised chiefly of scuzzy lower-class people who have no morals or respect for civilian law.

      January 24, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Reply
      • Manuel J.

        It sounds to me that you're a weak Liberal who relies on others to protect them but doesn't have the guts to stand up for anything. Repeat what you write to a veteran's face and I'm sure he would wipe his butt with it.

        However, I'm sure you're too much of a coward to publish your contact information so that veteran can take you up on the offer.

        January 24, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
      • spikemanlou

        What does the T stand for in Brad T, a testical in your mouth, you low life jerk off. From what I hear your mom really liked military men.

        January 24, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
      • USMC

        Nice, way to put down the people who protect your freedom to write stupid posts like that

        January 24, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
      • SGT_WTFOver

        Hey Brad- I'm a Former USMC Sgt '02-'07...I'm glad you appreciate my service. F'ing Sissy

        January 24, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
      • Lexie

        You're the one that's scuzzy and lower-class. You sit on your butt at your computer, being all bad, typing chicken-sh** words about people you don't even know. People that risk their lives,so you can have the freedom to do it. If you're so great, put down your mouse, pick up a gun and take the place of those "scuzzy lower-class people"...but you won't, cause you don't have the guts to.

        January 24, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
      • Ron

        Maybe you served in the armed forces, but I doubt it. Clearly you have no respect for the deceased, and less for the courageous men and women who protect your first amendment rights. As a veteran who's veteran father is buried in one of those cemeteries of perpetual honor, I wish you a slow and painful end to your pathetic life.

        January 24, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
      • Sgt. Fury

        Brad, you goddamned sissy-boy. I killed Hitler with my bare hands while he begged for mercy. You, I will beat to death with Dum Dum Duggan's dick. Wa-hooooo!!!

        January 24, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
      • kateslate

        Manuel, my family is filled with liberals.....who are former military, all discharged honorably. I take offense at your comment.

        January 25, 2012 at 12:21 am |
      • Retired SFC, USA

        Brad,
        I take it you don't know much about the military... I enlisted after getting my bachelor's in Computer Science... then did 20 years ...
        My best retribution to you and your comments? You are paying my retirement check each month :)
        Thanks
        Retired SFC, USA

        January 25, 2012 at 12:38 am |
      • Wayne

        REGARDING BRAD T. with a little electronic survailance, that post is comming out of TEHRAN IRAN boys, ignore it. Brad...get back in your WWII speed boat and scare the USN again.

        January 25, 2012 at 1:38 am |
      • Angela Birch

        Brad you sound like a Gingrich,Romney,Cheney, Limpball Republican who believes the military is for the lesser people. You have more important things to do.
        From A Vietnam vet who actually served, let me tell you every veteran who put his fanny on the line deserves everything the country can provide.

        January 25, 2012 at 2:36 am |
  18. V

    Who's the idiot that posted the article? They spelled 'cemeteries' wrong.

    January 24, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Reply
  19. Leaf on the Wind

    With all due respect to those who serve or have served, graveyards exist for the living. A dead body will never know it was misplaced.

    January 24, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Reply
  20. Bill

    Can we really expect more from the pentagon folks....probably not. Another bubble burst...oh, by the way, there's no Santa either. They need to get some people who know what they're doing to run this kind of stuff!

    January 24, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Reply
  21. Leucadia Bob

    Glad to know we're still wasting our tax dollars on something that would be better off left alone. Or in this case DEAD! Eat more bacon people:
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9E3eY94Gu0k&w=640&h=390]

    January 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Reply
    • dr. perry fisher

      you need to get laid you stupid cracker

      January 24, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Reply
  22. DixiesBabe

    Drinky, Apparently you need to learn the meaning of 'Honor' & 'Respect'. This issue matters, it all matters, to those who serve.

    January 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Reply
    • Robert

      Cut the bullshit. Honor and respect come from how a person lives and dies. It's not reserved for the military. What part of the Red State are you from, Comrad.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Reply
  23. DixiesBabe

    Given my husband is buried in Arlington & I wll join him eventually, I am thankful for actions taken to correct this travesty of honor.

    January 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Reply
  24. drinky

    It does seem odd that they can't get this right. Here is the body marked 368452...it goes in the hole marked 368452...

    January 24, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Reply
  25. jim

    Getting the headstones in the proper places will not bring back a single soldier. Get a grip, no real harm was done.

    January 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Reply
    • daninsac

      Yeah, I'm sure you'd just 'get a grip' and not be bothered one little bit if it were your mother or father who were in the wrong grave.

      January 24, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Reply
      • drinky

        because it would matter how? That I was crying on top of them or that I was crying 8 feet from them???

        January 24, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
      • Lennyb0b

        When you are dead, you are gone. What is buried is the persons remains. To some it may matter, correct it for them. If THEY perceive a problem then there IS a problem. Otherwise, let it be. I lost my son 25 April, 2008. He took his own life. He was 11th Armored Cavalry Blackhorse Regiment. The day he died, there was nothing left. His remains are buried here in Va. But he lives forerver in our hearts. A grave is just a spot to visit.

        January 24, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
      • Tim

        @LennyBob

        The article states that the VA is contacting the families of the affected graves "before" they start the relocation efforts. In other words, they aren't going to just up and move the body if the family doesn't really mind that it's not in the correct spot.

        January 24, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
      • Angela Birch

        They weren't in the wrong grave, the headstone was in the wrong spot.

        January 25, 2012 at 2:39 am |
      • Steadfast

        They have to contact families of the improperly located grave stones out of respect for the families not to get out of fixing the errors if the families don't care. Occasionally people choose to take ownerships of past mistakes and genuinely want to correct the wrong.

        January 25, 2012 at 2:58 am |
      • Cindi

        I'm sure that if my father was alive today, he would really laugh at so many of these comments. Like Lennyb0b said, to some it may matter, correct it for them. My fathers outlook was more like, bring me flowers when I'm alive, not when I'm dead, because I can't smell them when I'm dead. He lays out in a National Cemetery, and I'm sure if one of us kids noticed that his head stone had been replaced " accidently " with someone elses head stone, sure, I would be the one to say something. But then, I know in the back of my mind, I can hear my father saying something like, who the hell cares, why are you bothering those people for. Seriously, that is who my father was. Lennyb0b is right, a grave is a spot to visit, they are not there, only their remains are there. It seems that my father had the same insight as Lennyb0b. It doesn't mean that I agree with the both of them. It just means that they think, reasonable, rational, and realistic. My father was a army medic in WW2

        January 25, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • me138

      they are dead and decomposed in the ground it really doesnt matter if they are in the right place or not. if nobody said anything no one else would ever know, especially the dead person in the grave.

      January 24, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Reply
  26. Gene Jackson

    YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!

    January 24, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Reply
  27. Rayzor53

    A government department made a mistake? How unusual.

    January 24, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Reply
    • Geoz

      Yeah... because privitization always works. I never get the wrong thing from a company. Health care? always spot on. Thanks big corp, for being 100% perfect when this agency can only get a measly 99.something% perfect. So lame.

      January 24, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Reply
      • me138

        private business has way more incentive on getting things right than the government does.

        January 24, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
      • Mi

        Interesting that you say that, since it was a private business (contracted) who made the mistake!

        January 24, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Angela Birch

      sorry rayzor, but it was a private contractor who messed up. Just like they usually do.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:40 am | Reply
  28. Carol A

    It isn't that hard to track and it is a shame that it is happening or happened. It would not have happened on my watch and I definitely would have spoken up if some dirt bag was not doing their job.

    January 24, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Reply
  29. Epidi

    I opt for cremation – no taking up valuable real estate. I fyou see what they go thru in Europe – it's sad, they rent their burial spots and if the family doesn't pay the rent they move them out. No room anymore – it'll happen in this country too one day.

    January 24, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Reply
  30. Mike

    This was discovered 2-3 years ago, did everyone forget about it and decide to pretend like this is a new development?

    January 24, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Reply
    • Jack Be Humble

      Discovering the error is news. The announcement that everything has been corrected is news. Man biting dog is news. Dog biting man is only news if it involves Paris Hilton.

      January 24, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Reply
  31. TeaPartyIdiot

    This is stunning news and portends the end of the world.

    January 24, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Reply
  32. Byrd

    All of this stuff about honor in America is just a load of bull. Join the military. Die for your country. maybe they'll send your body home and maybe they won't. In Viet Nam the bodies were stuffed with heroin and opium and marked "Remains Non-Viewable". Any reason to expect that the same is not happening from opium-rich Afghanistan? And what becomes of that opium. Why it lines the pockets of those in the loop, if you remember the owner of that particular phrase.

    The more things change the more they stay the same, as the heroin flows through Dover, where neither prying eyes, nor cameras or journalists are allowed. A slab of marble is a slab of marble, so who cares what's underneath, right?

    Wrong. But then that's America....

    January 24, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Reply
    • Chuck in Jasper Ga.

      You watch too many dramatic movies.

      January 24, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Reply
      • Matt

        Haha no joke

        January 24, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Buzzer

      If you're confident in this did and in presently occurring and can offer proof, you should have no problem showing up on cable news in the next couple of days...this would be a HUGE story and the news outlets should be knocking down you door for an interview. We'll be waiting to see your story, if nothing happens (which it won't), we'll all just re-affirm that you're full of crap...don't make dumb @@s statements that you can't "back up" or corroberate...but hey, you have sometime to prove us wrong and we'll stand corrected.

      January 24, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Reply
    • ChuckNorisMF!

      Please repsond with forwarding information, I have your departure information and papers...please have your passport and your SSN card ready to turn in, you're sorry trash a $ $ is being deported..EnJoY!

      January 24, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Reply
  33. dave

    Ugh!

    January 24, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Reply
  34. JackoB

    What an unfortunate title for such a serious article...

    January 24, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Reply
    • saopaco

      I agree. Whoever titled this should reconsider his/her profession.

      January 24, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Reply
  35. justice

    As the son and grandson of vets, it's nice to know they showed respet in identifying and correcting the issue. Lesser men would have just as soon "buried" the mistake, and moved on to avoid backlash. 1% error is still far better than what is acceptable in any other bussiness or agency. thank you.

    January 24, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Reply
    • Mandy

      Excellent point. But it is still upsetting. My grandparents have planned their funerals and are to be buried in one of those cemetaries.

      January 24, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Reply

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