VA puts nationwide grave locator online

The Veterans Affairs Department has developed an online nationwide grave locator with more than 3 million records showing where veterans are buried in VA cemeteries. The feature will let Internet users search for the gravesite locations of veterans buried at the VA's 120 cemeteries since the Civil War.

The Web site, at www.cem.va.gov, will be updated nightly with information on burials the previous day. The locator also has records of some burials in state veterans' cemeteries and burials in Arlington National Cemetery from 1999 to the present.

'This advance in service culminates years of effort by VA's national cemetery staffs to put old paper records into this database,' said Veterans Affairs secretary Anthony Principi. 'Making burial locations more accessible may bring more visitors to the honored resting places that we consider national shrines and historical treasures.'

The site provides the same information that visitors to national cemeteries find on kiosks or in written ledgers to locate gravesites: name, dates of birth and death, period of military service, branch of service and rank if known, the cemetery's location and phone number, plus the grave's precise location in the cemetery. State cemetery burial records are from cemeteries that use VA's database to order government headstones and markers for veterans' graves. Since 1999, Arlington National Cemetery, operated by the Department of Army, has used the database.

The information in the database comes from records of interment, which before 1994 were paper records, kept at each cemetery. VA's interment records contain more information than what is shown on the Internet and cemetery kiosks. Some information, such as identification of the next of kin, will not be available to the public for privacy reasons.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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