15 September 2012

Veterans Administration Reinterpretation Disses Civil War Veterans

“A man who would not defend his father's
grave is worse than a wild animal.”
~ Chief Joseph

Many of you are aware of the ongoing struggle that the SCV has had attempting to get appropriate headstones installed at Oakwood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. First there was a battle with the City of Richmond, then the Commonwealth of Virginia, and now the Veterans Administration. The Virginia Division of the SCV has since enlisted the assistance of Virginia Senator James Webb; though I'd have to assume with Webb not seeking re-election, the V.A. will simply stall a little longer and run out the clock. Brag Bowling has an excellent article in the most recent issue of the Confederate Veteran which explains the history of Oakwood, as well as the ongoing attempts to restore the final resting place of over 17,000 men who died fighting for the Confederacy. I have an ancestor buried there whose grave is marked only by a number. It is a national disgrace. But, since these men are Confederate soldiers, they have few supporters.

John Meredith Crutchfield ~ #91
Oakwood Cemetery, Richmond, VA
But this attitude by the Veterans Administration is not necessarily confined to Confederate soldiers. An article in the most recent issue of Civil War News explains that the current V.A. has "reinterpreted existing law." This flies in the face of a policy which has been in place since 1906 and which allowed--even encouraged--the placing of appropriate headstones, without preference, for both Union and Confederate Veterans.

As the Civil War News piece points out, the V.A.'s new policy:

". . . will make it next to impossible to get headstones for many soldiers, especially ones who fought in wars in the 19th century,” said historian Todd Berkoff, who has discovered the graves of two Union officers in Massachusetts.

My question: Is this "new interpretation" simply due to budget constraints or an attitude of disrespect for America's soldiers?

You can read the complete Civil War News piece here.

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