The U.S. Army has decided that it needs to massively limit the amount of people eligible for burial in Arlington National Cemetery due to concerns about increasingly limited space.
What's the story?
In a press release from Wednesday, the Army said that it had made this decision after "more than two and a half years of thoughtful deliberations, public outreach and surveys — including feedback from veterans and military service organizations — and active engagement with ANC senior leaders and the ANC Advisory Committee."
"Arlington National Cemetery is a national shrine for all Americans, but especially those who have served our great nation," Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy said in the release. "We must ensure it can honor those we have lost for many years to come."
While the release notes that the cemetery is looking for ways to alleviate this issue by expanding "that alone will not solve the existing demand for burial space." The Army said that if "no changes are made" the cemetery would be completely full "by the mid-2050s — even for Medal of Honor recipients." These new rules are supposed to keep it running for 150 years.
Before these new guidelines can take effect, they need to be available in the Federal Register in order to be available for public comment by U.S. citizens. The Army expects this process "to take a minimum of nine months."
Who would still be able to get buried at the cemetery?
The Army said that Medal of Honor recipients would have 1,000 gravesites specifically set aside for them.
If this proposal is approved, the only other people who would still be eligible for burial at Arlington will be:
• Service members killed in action, to include repatriated remains
• Award recipients of the Silver Star and above who also served in combat
• Recipients of the Purple Heart
• Combat-related service deaths while conducting uniquely military activities
• Former prisoners of war
• Presidents and vice presidents of the United States
• Veterans with combat service who also served out of uniform as government officials and made significant contributions to the nation's security at the highest levels of public service
A broader group of veterans including "World War II-era veterans, "retirees from the armed forces," "veterans who have served a minimum of two years on active duty and who have served in combat," and "Veterans without combat service who also served out of uniform as government officials and made significant contributions to the nation's security at the highest levels of public service" would be permitted to have their cremated remains stored at the cemetery.