by Steve Muro
Our focus at the National Cemetery Administration always has been and always will be on Veterans and their families—and how we can best serve them in their hour of need. VA operates 131 national cemeteries across the country and conducts over 111,000 interments a year. In each case, the wishes of the Veteran’s family come first. Families decide whether and what type of religious service will take place.
More than 70 percent of NCA employees are Veterans, including me. We take seriously our Sacred Trust to honor Veterans and families with final resting places in national shrines. This includes meeting families’ needs and respecting their wishes regarding their loved one’s committal service.
We cherish the religious freedoms our Veterans secured for us. At all VA national cemeteries, families are free to choose and use the burial rites and rituals that are meaningful or sacred to them. During interments, the name of God or Jesus is not only allowed, it is freely spoken at VA national cemeteries across the country. Families are equally free to have a service without religious references.
Whatever type of service the family chooses for their loved one, we both share a common goal: to ensure a dignified, committal service worthy of their loved one’s service and sacrifice to our Nation.
VA national cemeteries are hallowed grounds in honor of all who have served and sacrificed on behalf of our Nation. VA ceremonies are inclusive and honor the faith traditions of all Veterans.
I am proud that VA’s national cemeteries are nationally-recognized for their commitment to excellence and top-rated customer satisfaction. For the past 10 years, the American Customer Satisfaction Index has rated VA National Cemeteries as the top-performing organization in the federal government. These high customer service satisfaction ratings are reflected every day by the service our employees and volunteers provide to Veterans and their families.
A career VA employee, Steve Muro is VA’s Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs. He is also a Vietnam Veteran.