The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on Friday completed the consolidation of various Army post cemeteries, an action first outlined in the department’s June 2018 “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century: Reform Plan and Reorganization Recommendations.”
According to a news release, VA’s National Cemetery Administration accepted the last Army post cemetery when it took over operations of the Fort McClellan Post Cemetery in Anniston.
“Completion of the cemetery transfers highlights VA’s role in increasing efficiency and streamlining operations across the federal government. It also spotlights the strong partnership between VA and the Department of Defense,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “The former Army post cemeteries join the VA’s 149 national cemeteries and the 4.9 million American veterans, service members and their families honored in these national shrines.”
The plan directed the transfer of the perpetual care and operation of 10 Army post cemeteries and one prisoner of war cemetery located on former active Army installations.
The VA’s comprehensive reform plan was built upon Executive Order 13781, signed by President Donald Trump in March 2017. To increase efficiency, limit mission overlap and maintain veterans cemeteries at national shrine standards, the plan recommended the transfer of operations and maintenance of select military cemeteries to NCA. The consolidation alleviates duplicative mission requirements and increases burial options for veterans and their dependents.
Fort McClellan was established in 1917 as a mobilization camp for National Guard troops in World War I. It served as a major training base for troops during World War II, as well as an internment camp for more than 3,000 prisoners of war. After the war, it served as a training facility. The post was closed as part of the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure round.
The Fort McClellan Post Cemetery was established in 1918 and contains the remains of 441 U.S. military personnel and civilians. The cemetery is closed to new interments, although it will accommodate requests for subsequent interments in existing gravesites for eligible family members.
The Army also transferred to VA the Fort McClellan Enemy Prisoner of War Cemetery, which contains the remains of prisoners who died while in captivity during World War II. These cemeteries will be operated by Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo.
During the last 15 months, the following Army post cemeteries were transferred to the VA: Fort Lawton Post Cemetery (Washington) in June 2019; Fort Missoula Post Cemetery (Montana), October 2019; Fort Sheridan National Cemetery (Illinois) and Fort Douglas Post Cemetery (Utah), December 2019; Vancouver Barracks National Cemetery (Washington), March 2020; and Fort Worden Post Cemetery (Washington), Fort Stevens National Cemetery (Oregon), Benicia Arsenal Post Cemetery (California) and Fort Devens Post Cemetery (Massachusetts) earlier this month.
For more information about Fort McClellan Post Cemetery or Fort McClellan Enemy Prisoner of War Cemetery, contact Steven Weir-Santos at 205-665-9039. For more information about the transfer of other Army cemeteries, contact NCA Public Affairs at 202-632-8035. To make burial arrangements at a VA national cemetery, call the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 800-535-1117.
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