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VA's national cemeteries lead nation

For the fourth time in 10 years, the system of national cemeteries operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs has bested the nation's top corporations and other federal agencies in a prestigious, independent survey of customer satisfaction.

"This survey is testament to the outstanding service that employees at VA's 131 national cemeteries provide to our nation's veterans and their families," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "It is VA's privilege to care for our nation's heroes in perpetuity, using the highest standards of professionalism and compassion."

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) is the only national, cross-industry measure of satisfaction with the quality of goods and services available in the United States. Beginning in 1999, the federal government selected ACSI to measure citizen satisfaction.

Citing VA's consistently record-setting ASCI scores, the independent Federal Consulting Group saluted VA's "commitment to outstanding customer service to ... veterans' next of kin, as demonstrated by achieving an extraordinarily high ASCI score."

More than 100 federal agencies have used ACSI to gauge consumer satisfaction with more than 200 services and programs. The index was founded at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business and the survey is produced by ACSI, LLC.

VA's National Cemetery Administration participates in the ACSI every three years, previously in 2001, 2004 and 2007. This is the fourth time it participated and the fourth consecutive time it received the top rating in the nation. For 2010, the National Cemetery Administration achieved a customer satisfaction index of 94. Its score is nearly 29 points above the average for federal government agencies, which was 65 in the study.

The ACSI survey polled the next-of-kin or other people who had arranged for the interment of a loved one in a VA national cemetery within the previous six months to one year. More than 1,900 people received the survey and 444 responded, a high response rate for a mail survey.

Using methodologies developed at the National Quality Research Center of the University of Michigan Business School, the National Cemetery Administration received ratings in the categories of "customer service" and "user trust" of 96 out of a possible 100 points, indicating respondents are exceptionally pleased with their experience at national cemeteries and willing to recommend their services to others.

Veterans with a discharge issued under conditions other than dishonorable, their spouses and eligible dependent children can be buried in a VA national cemetery. Also eligible are military personnel who die on active duty, their spouses and eligible dependents.

Other burial benefits available for all eligible veterans, regardless of whether they are buried in a national cemetery or a private cemetery, include a burial flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate and a government headstone or marker. Families of eligible decedents may also order a memorial headstone or marker when remains are not available for interment.

In the midst of the largest expansion since the Civil War, VA operates 131 national cemeteries in 39 states and Puerto Rico and 33 soldiers lots and monument sites. More than 3.5 million Americans, including Veterans of every war and conflict, are buried in VA's cemeteries on more than 19,000 acres of land.

Information on VA burial benefits can be obtained from national cemetery offices, from the Internet at or by calling VA regional offices toll-free at (800) 827-1000. To make burial arrangements at the time of need at any VA national cemetery, call the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at (800) 535-1117.

Please see your local county veterans service officer if you have any questions. You can contact your local VSO at (218) 631-7617 or by e-mail at As always, have a great week.