Arlington National Cemetery now has a call center for families worried that the remains of their loved ones may have been misidentified or misplaced.
The U.S. Army announced Thursday that an investigation found potentially hundreds of remains may be unidentified or misidentified due to poor management and record keeping at the cemetery, the Associated Press reported.
The call center (703-607-8199) went into operation this morning and as of noon, more than 160 calls had been taken, according to spokeswoman Kaitlin Horst. The center is staffed with four people from the Veterans Administration and the Army.
Right now, the help received by callers is mostly in the form of emotional support. Since the cemetery records are not computerized, the only immediate help the call takers can provide is to listen and take down information.
“We are very concerned about the fact that these families heard this news yesterday and are understandably very upset,” Horst said. “We wanted to set up this call center to give folks a direct line to speak with a person to hear out their concerns.”
NBC Washington tried the hotline. It rang dozens of times without rolling over to voicemail or an automated message letting callers know they’d reached the right place. Eventually a staffer answered.
“All we can do right now is ask for patience as we work through this,” Horst said. “It’s very important to us and we apologize for any inconvenience.”
Army officials are also aware of the problem and working with the cemetery and VA on increasing the call center’s capabilities, said Army spokesman Gary Tallman.