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DEAN and ORD Leaders and Staff Tour Arlington National Cemetery

January 24, 2024


Leaders and staff from VA’s Office of Discovery, Education, and Affiliate Networks (DEAN) and Office of Research and Development (ORD) recently toured Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, the 639-acre final resting place for more than 400,000 deceased former service members, Veterans, and eligible family members.

During the visit, the group viewed the gravesite of Gen. Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a four-star general. In brief remarks to the group, Carolyn Clancy, MD, Assistant Under Secretary for Health for DEAN, pointed out that Powell wanted to be buried at Arlington Cemetery “among fellow soldiers.”

“At a moment in time when there aren’t many leaders that are agreed upon,” Dr. Clancy said, “Colin Powell was someone I think who earned and enjoyed universal admiration and respect.”

The highlight of the visit was a solemn wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, conducted by the military guard with Dr. Clancy; Dr. Susan Kirsh, Deputy Assistant Under Secretary for Health for DEAN; Dr. Rachel Ramoni, Chief Research and Development Officer (CRADO); and Army Veteran Pauline Cilladi-Rehrer, Special Assistant to the Deputy CRADO for Investigation, Scientific Review, and Management.

The group also toured the National Park Service’s Arlington House. This memorial serves as a place to contemplate some of the most difficult aspects of American history. Attendees also saw the Guards Quarters and met some of the soldiers who stand guard at the cemetery.

Eric Enone, MPH, PMP, Chief Operating Officer and Administrative Officer for HSR&D, and Bob O’Brien, PhD, an HSR&D Scientific Program Manager, were among the participants of the tour. Both appreciated the opportunity to pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of Veterans.

“I always find it compelling to learn how the military respects those who put themselves at risk for their country, regardless of generation,” O’Brien said.

Enone noted that the cemetery was built on a former plantation. “I was very moved when I visited the slaves’ quarters and the garden where the slaves planted and took care of the garden produce,” he said.

Enone was thankful for the welcome the group received from Charles Alexander, Jr., Superintendent of the Arlington National Cemetery, and the chance to view Arlington’s collection of historic pictures and artifacts.

“I was very moved with deep appreciation and gratitude to those who have gone before us, [as well as those who] still serve our country,” Enone said. “Their service and sacrifice are revered, priceless, and greatly appreciated.”

Indeed, O’Brien said, the visit “serves as a dynamic motivator to continue pushing forward on the important efforts and responsibilities that we undertake in ORD.”

* Photos courtesy of VA Central Office

Dr. Clancy shared her thoughts as the group gathered near Gen. Colin Powell's gravesite.
Dr. Clancy shared her thoughts as the group gathered near Gen. Colin Powell's gravesite.
A guard leads (in the front, L to R) Rachel Ramoni and Susan Kirsh as (in the back, L to R) Carolyn Clancy and Pauline Cilladi-Rehrer follow during a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The ceremony concluded with the playing of Taps as some attendees wiped tears from their faces.
A guard leads (in the front, L to R) Rachel Ramoni and Susan Kirsh as (in the back, L to R) Carolyn Clancy and Pauline Cilladi-Rehrer follow during a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The ceremony concluded with the playing of Taps as some attendees wiped tears from their faces.
The group paused for a photo on the steps of Arlington House.
Bottom row L to R: Amy Bowers, Chien Chen, Erin Spaniol, Dr. Susan Kirsh, Dr. Carolyn Clancy, Dr. Rachel Ramoni, Dr. Masood Khan, Blaine Fitzgerald, Matthew Davio, Dr. Holly Krull
Middle row L to R: Dr. Robert O'Brien, Dr. Wendy Tenhula, Dr. Amelia Schlak, Dr. Alex Meredith, Dr. Maren Loe, Joy Langston, Dr. Grant Huang, Dr. Victoria Davey, Pauline Cilladi-Rehrer
Top row L to R: Amanda Garcia, Dr. Christopher Bever, Marc Wynne, Bruce Friedland, David Bartlinski, Eric Enone, Eva-Marie Austin, Ubon Mendie
The group paused for a photo on the steps of Arlington House.

Bottom row L to R: Amy Bowers, Chien Chen, Erin Spaniol, Dr. Susan Kirsh, Dr. Carolyn Clancy, Dr. Rachel Ramoni, Dr. Masood Khan, Blaine Fitzgerald, Matthew Davio, Dr. Holly Krull

Middle row L to R: Dr. Robert O'Brien, Dr. Wendy Tenhula, Dr. Amelia Schlak, Dr. Alex Meredith, Dr. Maren Loe, Joy Langston, Dr. Grant Huang, Dr. Victoria Davey, Pauline Cilladi-Rehrer

Top row L to R: Amanda Garcia, Dr. Christopher Bever, Marc Wynne, Bruce Friedland, David Bartlinski, Eric Enone, Eva-Marie Austin, Ubon Mendie


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