There’s a new way to remember our veterans buried at 136 National Cemetery Administration Cemeteries across the country – including Fort Bliss National Cemetery.
The Veterans Legacy Memorial online database now lists the names of more than 3.7 million deceased veterans in NCA cemeteries – and it will soon include shared memories, documents and photos of these men and women.
“This memorial program will be a great way for loved ones to tell the stories of their veterans,” said Jamie Porter, director of the Fort Bliss National Cemetery.
“It helps keep alive the legacy of the veterans here and around the country.”
Similar to the online obituary pages from funeral homes and newspapers, the program extends the Veterans Affairs mission to honor veterans to a broader audience in perpetuity.
“It enhances the onsite national cemetery experience and extends the experience to those who otherwise are unable to physically visit the cemetery,” Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement.
Developed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs over a number of years, the digital platform rolled out in August.
Initially the searchable database includes each veteran’s name, rank and military branch, dates of birth and death, times of service and the name of the cemetery where they are buried.
Porter said that the program started with information available on veterans’ headstones.
The next phase enables family members and friends to upload veterans’ photographs and biographical information.
Each veteran will have their own page for shared memories. These individual stories will bring to life the real person behind the headstone, memorializing their service and sacrifice.
At Fort Bliss National Cemetery, where more than 44,000 veterans are interred, the platform can transform the experience of visitors as they walk along rows of gravestones.
For instance, visitors will be able to research the names of the veterans buried beside their own loved one’s grave.
The secure upload and sharing features will be functional at a later date, Porter said.
Dr. Bryce Carpenter, Veterans Legacy Program manager, emphasized to Porter that those features will not be launched until systems are in place to ensure that all posts will be dignified and appropriate for the memorial program.
People interested in sharing photos and historical documents and comments will have to request access to their veteran’s page and all requests will undergo review before access will be granted.
The National Cemetery Administration will ensure that the site maintains the same respectful decorum one experiences in visiting a military cemetery.
Porter and his staff at Fort Bliss think that next Memorial Day, when the most people visit the cemetery, will be even more meaningful to visitors.
“Our challenge is to get the word out and encourage family members and friends to help populate our veterans’ pages,” he said. “This helps keep their memories alive.”