Leading up to Memorial Day, the National Cemetery Administration is highlighting recent enhancements to the nation’s first virtual platform for paying tribute to deceased Veterans at VA national cemeteries.
Memorial Day is a time to remember service members we’ve lost, and this year the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) is marking Memorial Day by launching brand new features to VA’s Veterans Legacy Memorial platform.
The new features permit online visitors to submit photos and biographical summaries of a Veteran’s life, along with historical documents such as award citations, career timelines, service achievements, letters, and newspaper clippings. Another feature will allow visitors to follow their Veteran’s page and receive email alerts when new content is posted.
The updates are designed to enrich the experience of Veterans’ families and friends as they use the platform to pay tribute to their loved ones interred at VA national cemeteries. They will enhance the user ability to connect and pay tribute, making their experiences even more personal and precious.
VA Secretary Denis McDonough recently spoke about the Veterans Legacy Memorial, including how, during the COVID-19 pandemic when it’s harder to make in-person visits, the Veterans Legacy Memorial is an excellent way to pay tribute to our Veterans.
In addition, NCA’s Digital Services Officer James LaPaglia, in a recent interview on VA’s Borne the Battle podcast, talks more about the enhanced features of the Veterans Legacy Memorial platform. (The discussion begins at the 5:00 minute mark of the podcast.)
How It Started and How It’s Going
The Veterans Legacy Memorial website launched in 2019 as the nation’s first digital platform dedicated to the memory of the millions of Veterans interred in the 155 VA national cemeteries. Nearly 4 million Veterans of every conflict — from the Revolutionary War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — are honored with individual profile pages on the Veterans Legacy Memorial.
NCA team members and affiliates conceived the idea of an online memorial platform while working on preserving service members’ histories. Over the years, with close collaboration between NCA, VA’s Office of Information and Technology, as well industry partners, the platform’s present architecture and functionality took shape.
“NCA has continued to scale up the platform to accommodate a steadily increasing user base. NCA staff are coordinating with the Department’s Office of Information and Technology and third-party technologists to ensure a rich, meaningful experience for users, including moderating posts before posts are visible to site visitors,” said LaPaglia.
“VA’s DevSecOps focus for Veterans Legacy Memorial has been exceptional, and that’s largely due to the efforts of the Veterans Legacy Memorial Product Manager William Rodgers,” said LaPaglia.
Featuring technology infrastructure, which includes cloud storage as well as clear prompts for posting and editing, the Veterans Legacy Memorial reflects VA’s dedication to baking human-centered design principles into digital platforms and tools that directly service the Veteran community.
The Veterans Legacy Memorial is a state-of-the-art digital platform and a shining example of VA’s commitment to delivering quality and meaningful experiences to America’s Veterans and families.
Approximately half of the platform’s Veteran profile pages now include headstone marker images from NCA sources and a mapping feature that allows friends and family to easily locate the final resting place for deceased loved ones.
Jim Theres, Public Affairs Specialist at NCA, said the capability that enables loved ones to pay tribute to departed Veterans is proving to be very popular.
“We have over 15,000 tributes as we approach Memorial Day, and we expect that figure to continue to grow significantly as the word gets out,” said Theres.
In total, the Veterans Legacy Memorial and the recent enhancements to the platform represent a major leap forward in VA’s mission of leveraging information technology and digital transformation to better serve Veterans, stakeholders, and American taxpayers.
How Families, Friends, and the Public Can Pay Tribute
The November 2020 NCA campaign to “Find a Veteran, Post a Tribute” invited the nationwide Veteran community to sign up for the Veterans Legacy Memorial using ID.me at VA’s main website, or post as a guest without login. Those who did not sign up last year, can still do so, but the user experience is largely the same for guests and logged-in members with just a couple exceptions. A user must be logged in to “Follow a Veteran” or to “like” other user’s posts.
After Veterans Legacy Memorial moderators review submissions to determine compliance with the Veterans Legacy Memorial User Policy, posts will go live on the Veteran’s page, typically within 48 hours of entry but often sooner. In addition, visitors can export and share their loved ones Veterans Legacy Memorial page via email and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, by clicking the appropriate share button in the upper right of the Veteran’s page.
And as Memorial Day 2021 unfolds, the Veterans Legacy Memorial empowers families, survivors, and fellow Veterans to connect, and to honor their Veteran loved ones within a secure virtual environment, ensuring no Veteran is forgotten.
Our commitment to digital and IT transformation is shaped by daily dedication to customer service and the close collaboration of our workforce, managers, and leaders. Ready to join us in improving Veterans’ care? Check out all current information and technology career opportunities on DigitalVA. You can also contact VA’s Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer at 512-326-6600, Monday thru Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST or by submitting a resume to VACareers@va.gov.