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Millions of veterans are buried in cemeteries operated by the Army or Department of Veterans Affairs around the country. For the most part, their resting places are marked simply by their names and the years of their life. But an ongoing project from VA’s National Cemetery Administration aims to honor them beyond just those markings.
The Veterans Legacy Project has created a website that contains individual memorial pages for all 3.7 million veterans in its system. “What we wanted to do was extend memorialization into an arena where more and more Americans are spending more of their engaging activity,” said Dr. Bryce Carpenter, the project’s program manager, on Federal Drive with Tom Temin.
As of now, the website, which is being called the Veterans Legacy Memorial, is still in its infancy so the information and interactivity on the pages remains relatively bare compared to the ultimate goals, but many upgrades to the large scale project are in the works.
A major feature soon to be available is giving family members some guardianship over the profiles so they can add information about the veteran in order to create a more robust memorial. Visitors to the pages will also soon be able to leave comments.
The website is great for living veterans looking to find out more about those with whom they once served. “A lot of veterans come to us because they would like to learn more about veterans in units that they served in,” Carpenter said. “VA doesn’t collect that information … so information like that has to come from the families in the veteran community.”
There are of course millions of veterans buried in cemeteries operated outside of the VA system. The project also aims to ultimately include as many of those veterans as they can. Some of the steps they are taking to expand the database are asking other organizations to share the information they do have about veterans and reaching out to private cemeteries.
Security is a priority for project leaders as well. “It’s VA’s first public-facing website that’s 100% cloud resident. It’s got the highest level of data security and data privacy … It’s been noticed and recognized by the executive office of the president and OMB as modeling this new approach to public-facing web-based services for the public,” Carpenter said.
Gathering and verifying all the data while successfully rolling out features is a huge task and will take some time as project leaders do their due diligence to make sure they get everything right.