That reprimand was removed from Metzler’s file when he retired, according to Jennifer Lynch, a public affairs officer for Arlington. The reprimand was supposed to remain for three years, but Metzler retired soon afterward.
“When civilian personnel retire, letters of reprimand are removed from their files at that time,” Lynch said in an e-mail.
Wittman also accused Army Secretary John McHugh and the Army’s inspector general of not taking the issues at the cemetery seriously. Both had been invited to testify at the hearing but did not attend.
“It’s obvious they don’t get it,” said Wittman, chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on oversight and investigations.
In a statement issued Friday morning, Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza, chief of Army Public Affairs said: “Since becoming Secretary of the Army, Secretary McHugh has been personally involved in righting the wrongs at Arlington: he ordered the Inspector General’s investigation that uncovered the string of serious problems that occurred over many years; he replaced the cemetery’s failed management team; he changed the cemetery’s chain of command, making the Executive Director responsible directly to him. Secretary McHugh has taken charge and provided the leadership needed to fix the problems. To say or imply otherwise is disingenuous and unfair.”
The inspector general’s report released last year found widespread issues at the nation’s most venerated military burial ground: unmarked and mismarked graves, urns that had been unearthed and dumped in a dirt pile, and a chaotic management system that spent millions on botched contracts attempting to digitize the cemetery’s paper records. Since then, cemetery officials have found more issues, including people who had been buried in the wrong place or in unmarked graves.
Despite the continuing revelations, Karl Schneider, principal deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs, told the committee that legally there was nothing further the Army could do to reprimand the former administrators.
“Our jurisdiction to take any administrative action against them evaporated the day they retired,” he said. “Once they retire, we have no control.”
The Army’s Criminal Investigation Division is probing a mass grave at the cemetery, and Schneider said that anyone found culpable could face criminal charges. The grave contained eight sets of cremated remains that officials think may have been dug up elsewhere inadvertently and then stashed in the single grave. An Army CID spokesman confirmed Thursday that the investigation, now in its sixth month, is continuing.