Skip to comments.Arlington Cemetery Officials Punished for Poor Management
Posted on 06/10/2010 7:48:54 PM PDT by SandRat
WASHINGTON, June 10, 2010 The top two officials in charge of Arlington National Cemetery here were disciplined after an Army investigation found the cemeterys management to be dysfunctional, Army Secretary John M. McHugh announced today at the Pentagon.
The Army stripped Superintendent John Metzler of all authority, but he will remain on staff until his retirement July 2. His deputy, Thurman Higgenbotham, was placed on administrative leave pending additional personnel actions. Both are career federal civil servants.
A majority of these findings are deeply troubling and unacceptable, McHugh told reporters today at a Pentagon news conference. The [inspector general] found Arlingtons mission hampered by dysfunctional management, by a lack of established policies and procedures and an overall unhealthy organizational environment.
The report determined the improper internment of remains, including the loss of accountability for remains, names and graves listed as empty, he said. McHugh also cited improper maintenance and cleaning of graves.
That all ends today, he said firmly, later adding that theres simply no excuse for the negative findings in the report.
McHugh established a new position to oversee the Army National Cemeteries Program. Katherine Condon was appointed executive director of the cemeteries program and she has total supervisory powers pertaining to all business and operational activities associated with Army cemeteries, the secretary said.
Condon served as the senior civilian for the Army Material Command before accepting the position.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki also agreed to lend his departments expertise in cemetery operations. Patrick K. Hallinan, director of the Office of Field Programs for the VA, will be temporarily reassigned as Arlingtons superintendent. Hallinan currently oversees 130 national cemeteries.
Also, McHugh established an Army National Cemetery Advisory Commission. Former Sens. Bob Dole and Max Cleland are charged with leading the group. Both former legislators have the experience for the job. Dole co-chaired a commission that investigated deficiencies at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2007, and Cleland is a former VA secretary.
McHugh said hes deeply grateful for the help hes enlisted. But more noticeably, the former New York congressman said he was battered with guilt and expressed his apologies to the families of the fallen buried in Arlington.
On behalf of the United States Army and on behalf of myself, I deeply apologize to the families of the honored fallen resting in that hallowed ground who may now question the care afforded to their loved ones, he said.
The Army and Arlington National Cemetery will bounce back, McHugh said.
The Army owes better, he said. Im unable to explain the past, but I can promise this about the future. The United States Army will take every step necessary to fully ensure that every challenge, every need at Arlington is clearly understood and effectively addressed.
We owe no less to our departed heroes, no less to the loved ones of this nation who, when the call was sounded, stepped forward to serve, McHugh continued. The better tomorrows for Arlington National Cemetery begin today.
John M. McHugh
Totally unacceptable incompetence at our most revered National Treasure....thanks 0bozo!
I notice the article doesn’t say when the mismanagement occurred. Should I assume that means it was in the last 18 months and therefore occurred under Obozo’s watch?
She’s an Unknown.
Just make sure the dearly departed get to vote in the elections. Oh wait—they’re military-—probably vote conservative too-—never mind.
I’m not putting down Arlington, because it’s a beautiful place and I think it’s a fitting way to honor our fallen heroes. However, I do find it ironic that the cemetery was actually started there as a thumb in the eye to General Lee. Dead Union soldiers were buried there largely as payback for his disloyalty in resigning his commission from the Union army and joining the Confederacy. At around the same time they were deciding to bury Union soldiers there, the Union was swindling the Lee family out of the land through an illegal scheme (later overturned by the Supreme Court) wherein they refused to accept payment of taxes from an agent of the Lee family and demanded that they pay the taxes in person, which they knew the Lees would be unable to do.
I just found that fascinating when I toured Arlington last year. I had never heard it before.
This IG investigation has been brewing for months. The main honcho had announced his retirement about a month ago. I have vague memories of Katherine Condon from when I was on active duty Or back as a DA civilian(I retired in 93). She is a career Department of Army civilian. And was a competent person. I believe that she will do our deceased brothers in arms the appropriate honors.
Thanks. I hope Katherine Condon does a good job with the cemetery.
I had not heard it was being mismanaged.
As army assignments go, that’s got to be a fairly easy one.
According to Fox News Radio, the problems at Arlington began 13 years ago; more than 200 graves/sets of remains may have been interred in the wrong spot, lost or were improperly accounted for since 1997.
Secretary McHugh shouldn’t stop the wave of firings with the two former senior civilians at Arlington. Culpability extends up and down the chain.
Paper records and card files. In this day and age, a mistake waiting to happen. Who was the IG that passed them the last time?
“was swindling the Lee family out of the land through an illegal scheme”
This proves the government has always and will always screw over people.