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Opening Statement of Hon. Jon Runyan, Chairman, Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs

Good morning and welcome.  This oversight hearing of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs will now come to order. 

I would first like to thank Ms. Condon, Major General McCoy, and Mr. Hallinan for lending their valuable time to be here this morning to discuss Arlington National Cemetery with the Subcommittee. 

A couple of months ago Ms. Condon and Mr. Hallinan testified before this subcommittee on the progress they have made after taking over the administration of Arlington following the deplorable revelations in last year’s Army IG Report.

We are here today to continue that discussion of the progress that has been made at Arlington National Cemetery and the work that continues to be done there.

There are many veterans’ cemeteries across this great land -- each one of these sites is hallowed ground. Every grave marker honors the cherished memory of our nation’s heroes who have been laid to rest.

Yet Arlington National Cemetery has long been a national symbol of these sacred memorials, while remaining unique and special in the minds of America’s citizens.

As I mentioned a few months ago at our previous hearing on Arlington, it is clear that one year would not be long enough to correct the many problems at Arlington National Cemetery and fix every issue brought about by years of neglect and mismanagement.   I know we all share a sense of urgency in continuing to address the issues at ANC and can agree that tremendous strides have been accomplished by the new team at Arlington. 

Ms. Condon and Mr. Hallinan, as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs, I want to personally commend your efforts in bringing about these much needed changes.

Today, my focus, and that of this hearing, is on the process moving forward with the strong foundation laid by this new administration at Arlington National Cemetery. 

In particular, I should note this foundation includes the most recent Army Inspector General’s report which found substantial corrections from the past deficiencies identified in the initial report that brought many of these challenges to light.

In short, due to your diligence, hard work, and excellent management, the problems which plagued Arlington National Cemetery just one year ago have been addressed and the majority have been eliminated.

Moving forward, I hope to learn how this progress will be sustained; and your plans to strengthen the improvements already made.

 In particular, based on the I.G. report’s key recommendations, I look forward in hearing your thoughts and plans for:

  • the creation of a Multi-service policy for Arlington;
  • the long term command, planning, and oversight of the Army National Cemeteries; and 
  • internment wait times and the cemetery lifespan in reaching its full capacity.

Again, I would like to thank all of you for being here today.  And thank you for your commitment to this great cemetery for our true American heroes.

I would now call on the Ranking Member for his opening statement.