Fort Riley began efforts May 13 to capture headstone images and review interment records as part of an Army-wide gravesite accountability initiative to ensure all decedents interred in Army post cemeteries have been identified and are all properly commemorated.
A team from Installation Management Command (IMCOM) helped launch the efforts and trained post cemetery staff and augmentees on the accountability process and the use the specialized tools. IMCOM’s goal is complete 100 percent accountability of 27 IMCOM post cemeteries at 17 locations by June 30, culminating in the review of more than 40,000 graves.
The multi-faceted process incorporates many new technologies, including a customized smartphone application to take photos of both the front and back of each grave marker; the Army Mapper tool to capture coordinates of each grave marker location; and a web-based research tool – developed and managed by the Army Analytics Group – to validate the information.
“This work honors all those who rest in the Fort Riley Post Cemetery,” said Col. William Clark, garrison commander. “Visitors will know their loved ones are treated with dignity and respect and are in an environment befitting their sacrifice,” he added.
The enterprise-wide gravesite accountability effort is at the direction of the secretary of the Army, who in 2011, directed commands responsible for post cemeteries to account for all interred and to raise the standards of Army’s cemetery operations. With policy oversight from the Army National Military Cemeteries (ANMC), IMCOM is following the lead of Arlington National Cemetery (ANC), where more than 300,000 gravesites have been validated. The same business rules and best practices applied at ANC were applied here at the Fort Riley Post Cemetery.
The ultimate result of these activities will be 100 percent accountability of all those interred at Army post cemeteries; an online, searchable database of interment information and grave marker images viewable by the public; and a smart phone application that allows cemetery visitors to easily locate grave locations. Cemetery operations and management will be automated across all Army cemeteries.
“The accountability mission leads to sustainable, standardized cemetery operations, and enhances the visitor experience,” said John McGee, Fort Riley Post Cemetery operations representative.