SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Military veterans say our vets deserve better. People visiting the graves of loved ones at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery have been shocked and outraged by the landmark's current condition.
The majority of the grass is dead or dying, creating in the minds of many a disrespectful and disgraceful site for our fallen heroes. It's a sentiment shared by visitors, who say it appears as if the 77-acre site has been abandoned.
Point Loma resident Robin Tweed couldn't believe her eyes when she walked by on Father's Day. She let her son-in-law, who's in the Navy, see an image of the final resting place of thousands of veterans.
"When I saw this and I sent a picture to him, they were just flabbergasted basically," Tweed said.
Cemetery director Thomas Mullen says during an automation upgrade of the facility's irrigation system, a large number of PVC ball valves failed. He also says given the amount of water which could destroy huge parts of the cemetery, he shut the system off until repairs got underway.
Mullen also blames the die-off on a headstone realignment program, which requires no watering. Areas being readied for alignment are also not being saturated. Employees are being paid overtime to save as much of the grass as they can.
But that's not good enough for Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter, who sent a letter to Steve Muro, the Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs in the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"What is most disconcerting is how poor the conditions have been without any action by the cemetery staff until recently. We owe them the dignity and respect that they deserve by ensuring that this property be maintained with the highest standards," Hunter wrote.
The cemetery director is promising to return the property to national shrine levels. Hopefully, he says, without any further issues everything should be back to normal sometime in August.