Buried veterans records now on Web
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sally Naporlee turned to the Department of Veterans Affairs to find out more about her grandfather, who served during World War I.
After a few weeks wait for a response, Naporlee learned from the VA that Carmelo Castorina is buried at Pine Lawn National Cemetery in New York. Unexpectedly, she also learned from VA that her grandmother is buried with him, a privilege extended to veterans' spouses.
VA has made it easier and faster for the public to get answers about family history, old war buddies or famous war heroes. The agency put on the Web 3.2 million records for veterans buried at 120 national cemeteries since the Civil War. The Web site is http://www.cem.va.gov.
The VA's Nationwide Gravesite Locator also has records for some state veterans cemeteries and burials in Arlington National Cemetery since 1999.
Joe Nosari, VA's deputy chief information officer for Memorial Affairs, said the records used to be on paper and microfilm. Private companies have put some of the information online and charged for it, but the VA information is free, he said.
Naporlee, of Spokane, Wash., also learned her grandfather served with the Army's 161 DB unit, enlisting June 24, 1918. He was honorably discharged December 17, 1918.
The VA's gravesite navigator includes names, dates of birth and death, military service dates, service branch and rank if known, cemetery information and grave location in the cemetery. The VA will withhold some information, such as next of kin, for privacy purposes.
The site will be updated daily. Annually, about 80,000 veterans are buried at national cemeteries.
The VA also hopes to add records for veterans whose families requested grave markers from the VA. Those markers may go to private cemeteries or cemeteries overseas.
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