CNMI Veterans Affairs and Department of Public Works staff attended a week-long training at the Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii last December that was intended to improve the management of the CNMI’s Veterans Cemetery in Marpi.
In a statement, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said the collaboration was made possible by the federal (Punchbowl) and state (Kaneohe) cemeteries in Hawaii. The CNMI attendees were Veterans Affairs executive officer Stanley T. Iakopo, Veterans Cemetery groundsman Raymond C. Teregeyo, and DPW field manager Joseph Manuel C. Castro. Hawaii Office of Veterans’ Services director Ron P. Han Jr. and Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific director Jim Horton also attended.
Iakopo said changes in the demographics and the increasing veteran population, government legislation, and new cemetery procedures require formal training and education.
“This hands-on training is essential for all cemetery operators because it is designed to provide knowledge and training for the cemetery’s management in order to make the area safe and peaceful for our veterans and their families,” said Iakopo.
Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios said that taking care of veterans’ needs include maintaining and improving the veterans cemetery.
“We are forever indebted to our service members for all the sacrifices they make for our country. Our administration is committed to improving the quality of all services provided to our veterans and their families, including the Veterans Cemetery. We would also like to thank [Iakopo] and the hardworking staff at Veterans Affairs and DPW for their continued efforts to serve our veterans in the Commonwealth.”