SAN ANTONIO – The U.S. Army Installation Management Command began in April to record headstone images and review interment records at 29 Army post cemeteries worldwide.
The nine-member IMCOM Cemetery Operations team will travel to 19 installations this summer to conduct a thorough review of interment records and grave markers.
This verification initiative will validate information of more than 45,000 graves. The goal is to achieve 100 percent accountability at all IMCOM post cemeteries.
The multi-faceted process incorporates many new technologies, including a customized smart phone application to take photos of both the front and back of each grave marker, Army Mapper to capture coordinates of each grave marker location, and a research tool-developed and managed by the Army Analytics Group-to validate the information. The ICO team will validate and correct, if needed, each record of interment and grave marker.
During the site visits, the ICO team will train garrison staff to use the technology tools to sustain the accountability process into the future.
“Establishing and maintaining the highest standards of appearance and accountability will be an enduring mission at IMCOM,” said Gregory Kuhr director of G4, Facilities and Logistics, for IMCOM. “This work honors all those who rest in an IMCOM cemetery. Visitors will know their loved ones are treated with dignity and respect and are in an environment befitting their sacrifice,” he said.
The ICO team, established in 2011 at the direction of the Secretary of the Army to raise the standards of cemetery operations, is following the lead of Arlington National Cemetery, where nearly 300,000 gravesites were validated. The same business rules and best practices applied at Arlington will also be applied during IMCOM’s accountability project.
“We’ve been planning the accountability mission for over six months and are now ready to execute,” said Judith Tarbox, acting ICO chief. In addition to a comprehensive campaign plan that outlines a five-phase approach to sustainable, standardized cemetery operations, ICO also developed training plans and materials, standard operating procedures and common levels of service.
The goal of these efforts will be 100-percent accountability of all those interred at IMCOM post cemeteries; an online, searchable database of interment images viewable by the public; and a smart phone application that allows cemetery visitors to easily locate grave locations. Gravesite information will be automated across all Army cemeteries.
Another aspect of the mission to achieve sustainable results is the realignment of duties and responsibilities of garrison staffs in the management of IMCOM cemeteries. Currently, Garrison commanders determine operations and management responsibilities at their post cemeteries. Once the accountability process is complete, standardized processes will be implemented and oversight realigned to the department of public works within each garrison.
“The end state will be an enhanced experience for cemetery visitors,” said Mr. Kuhr. “The cemeteries grounds will be improved through consistently applied standards and measures, adequate funding and sustainable operations into the future.”
The team expects to reach 100 percent accountability at IMCOM post cemeteries by end of summer 2013, with sustainability attained by mid-2014. The online database should be available in late 2014.