Honorable Few – Capt. J.J. Harris

Marine Corps League Detachment #1302

VA moving to let living veterans prep their online memorial pages

Veterans Affairs planners expect to expand their Veterans Legacy Memorial platform by the end of this year to allow living veterans to prepare their own tribute pages with personal details of their time in service, officials said Monday.

The five-year-old project — which allows family members to update online memorials of deceased veterans — has grown to include nearly 10 million veterans interred in VA-run cemeteries, Department of Defense sites and thousands of private cemeteries.

VA Undersecretary for Memorial Affairs Matt Quinn said he has been pleased with the progress in recent years but has also heard from veterans who want to prepare their own tributes to better capture their memories of military life.

“By the end of the year, we expect to have that live,” he said. “Then the veteran … can go and fill out the information on their service, what they want their family or others to be aware of. And upon the veteran’s passing, that page will go live.”

VA adds 5 million more veterans to online legacy project

Veterans would not be able to have the pages displayed while they are still alive, but would be able to view it themselves to ensure the information there will be accurate when made public, officials said.

Quinn did not provide any estimates on how many veterans may be interested in the service. Of the nearly 17 million veterans in America today, nearly half are 65 or older.

News of the expansion comes just days ahead of Memorial Day celebrations at VA cemeteries and memorial sites across the country. Quinn said the weekend is the busiest for the National Cemetery Administration each year, although volunteer and crowd numbers still appear slightly lower than before the COVID-19 pandemic forced partial closures of the sites for two years.

“We’re not all the way back yet, but we’re getting close,” he said. “I’d say 75% to 90% of attendees are back in some fashion.”

VA Secretary Denis McDonough is scheduled to speak at the New York Veterans Cemetery Finger Lakes in Waterloo, New York, on May 27. The town, dubbed the “birthplace of Memorial Day,” first marked the holiday in 1866.

VA Chief of Staff Kimberly Jackson is scheduled to speak during ceremonies at Wood National Cemetery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on May 27. VA Deputy Secretary Tanya Bradsher is scheduled to speak at Baltimore National Cemetery in Maryland on May 30 as part of the extended holiday celebrations.

Information on events at all VA sites and the online veterans memorial project is available through the National Cemetery Administration website.