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The man in charge of U.S. military cemeteries

By Ed O'Keefe

The Eye spoke last week with Steve Muro, who serves as acting undersecretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration, putting him in charge of 131 national cemeteries in the United States and Puerto Rico.

Steve Muro
Steve Muro, Acting Undersecretary for Cemetery Administration (Photo by VA).

Military veterans honorably discharged from the Armed Forces, their spouses and dependents are eligible for burial at the national or state military cemeteries at no cost to their families. Muro's team oversaw more than 106,000 burials last year and assisted with 27,000 burials at private cemeteries. The office also cut and shipped more than 352,000 headstones and markers.

So what exactly do you do?

I'm responsible for the operations, maintenance and development of national cemeteries under Department of Veterans Affairs. Our goal is to ensure 90 percent of veterans have a burial option within 75 miles of their residence, which means we'll have either a national or state cemetery within 75 miles of where they reside.

How do you determine where to build new cemeteries?

By the demographics, we look at the population. We used to have 170,000 veterans in 75 mile radiuses. We've changed that now with the support of the secretary [Eric K. Shinseki] and the president and hopefully Congress will support us, and we're reducing that to 80,000 veterans within 75 miles. That's why we have five new national cemeteries that will be built [in Daytona/Melbourne, Fla., Tallahassee, Fla., Buffalo/Rochester, N.Y., Omaha and Southern Colorado].

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By Ed O'Keefe  | May 31, 2010; 11:57 AM ET
Categories:  Administration  
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