May 27, 2009

Graves hard to find at 66 national cemeteries after database crash, officials say

Hard drive fails in Virginia and knocks out national database for 66 national cemeteries. Fallback for assistance was the local staff.

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People visiting the Springfield National Cemetery over the Memorial Day holiday discovered finding veterans’ graves a tougher battle than usual because a computerized grave locator was out of action.

It wasn’t a problem occurring only at the Springfield cemetery, though.

Sixty-six national cemeteries equipped with computerized kiosks were affected by a computer crash at the National Cemetery Administration in Quantico, Va., according to the Veterans Administration officials.

VA spokeswoman Jo Schueda said what’s being blamed on a hard drive gone bad has affected access to the computerized cemetery records of six million veterans buried at national cemeteries.

The crash was discovered early Sunday and is being blamed on an equipment malfunction and not high user demand on the system, she said.

Computer technicians discounted problems caused by high demand from cemetery visitors because the crash happened early in the day before national cemeteries in the western United States were open, Schueda said.

Springfield National Cemetery administrative officer Gary Edmonson said he’d been in touch with the National Cemetery Administration.

“It’s a hard drive that fried in Virginia,” Edmonson said. “It’s still out of commission.”

The kiosk that allows cemetery visitors to locate veterans’ graves went down Sunday morning, Edmonson said.

“It’s fried, but they’re going to try to get it up today,” he said.

That may be an optimistic assessment, Schueda said.

A new hard drive has been installed, but more work needs to be done and the task might not be finished until Wednesday, she said.

Computer system staffers indicated that while the computer has been repaired, they will need time to rebuild the data base structure, she said.

Cemetery visitors wanting information on graves were helped by cemetery staff Sunday and Monday, Edmonson said.

Posted by staff at May 27, 2009 10:34 AM