Tuesday, January 25, 2011

VA's National Cemeteries Lead Nation

VA's National Cemeteries Lead Nation in Satisfaction Survey
Ranking Tops Federal Agencies, Private Firms

WASHINGTON (Jan. 25, 2011) - For the fourth consecutive time in ten
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 www.cem.va.gov  <http://www.cem.va.gov> 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.