Arlington National Cemetery: Closure is Preferable to Restricting Retirees

November 22, 2016

After the completion of two current expansion projects, Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) will reach maximum capacity around 2050.

And what's being done to address this?

Over the last several months, the Advisory Committee on Arlington National Cemetery (ACANC), an independent federal advisory committee, has been meeting to discuss ways to extend the active life of the cemetery. The committee developed a letter for Congress discussing several options moving forward.

As Congress begins discussions on the fate of the cemetery, MOAA wanted to know what you thought was best.

Over 6,800 people took MOAA's survey and the results are summarized in the chart below:

ANC results

Participants overwhelmingly rejected the idea of restricting retirees, with the majority preferring expansion options as the initial course of action. In fact, most participants favored continued eligibility for retirees, even if that means closing ANC to future burials once it reaches capacity.

Based on the results, there's no single dominant reason why individuals choose to be buried at ANC compared to other veteran cemeteries.

Of the 47 percent of participants who stated that they planned to be interred or inurned at ANC, the reasons for this choice were evenly split among:

  1. the cemetery's military connection,
  2. the special nature of the location,
  3. the rites and ceremonies performed at ANC, and
  4. other reasons

This response is significant, because it illustrates just how difficult it would be to create an analogous cemetery option if Congress decides to restrict eligibility.

As discussions on the future of ANC proceed, MOAA urges Congress to keep in mind these results and the importance of acknowledging needs of retirees who have already made plans vs those who may die a century or more from now.


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