Monday, July 26, 2010

ROA to Testify on Arlington's Reserve Component Interment Policy

Andrew Gonyea
Communications Assistant

At a House Armed Services Committee hearing June 30, ROA highlighted the differential treatment of the Reserve Components regarding Arlington National Cemetery's (ANC) interment policies, and as a result, ROA has been asked to submit testimony for the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight (SOCO) July 29 to further discuss this topic.

In its original statement for the record, ROA explained how current eligibility criteria is flawed and how it should be expanded and codified to align with the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) criteria. Despite the fact that over 750,000 Guard and Reserve members have been activated for homeland defense and overseas contingency operations since 2001, when they return to Selective Reserve status, they are no longer eligible for ANC burial unless they have received a Purple Heart, Medal of Honor, Silver Star, or higher, or received retired pay upon becoming age 60 and served a period of active duty (other than for training).

ROA supports in-ground burial eligibility for the following groups:
  • Any Reserve Component member who has served on active duty honorably in a combat or hazardous duty zone, but who has not been killed in the line of duty.
  • National Guard and Reservists who are killed in the line of duty whether on Active Duty for Training (ADT), Active Duty for Special Work (ADSW) for less than 30 days, or Individual Duty Training (IDT).
  • Gray-area retirees if entitled to retirement pay under Title 10.
  • Spouse, surviving spouse, or dependent children of any group of eligible National Guard and Reserve members.
ROA also noted that current ANC interment policies were developed to allocate the remaining cemetery land to "honor those who have contributed to the national security of the United States," but because ANC recently acquired more land, the urgency to exclude Guard and Reserve members to save space has been removed, and care must be taken to recognize their contributions to the total force.

A couple weeks later, ROA met with SOCO staffers to answer questions about the House testimony and to educate about the Army burial policy at Arlington National Cemetery for Selected Reservists, as they prepare for the July 29 hearing. At the request of the staffers, ROA contacted members of The Military Coalition (TMC) and National Military and Veterans Alliance (NMVA) to provide further input from associations on how ANC should be administered.

Should the Army-administered cemeteries such as ANC be moved under the Department of Veterans Affairs? Congress wants to know our opinion.

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