VA modernizing networks to support NCA cemeteries, sites and services to veteran families

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When loved ones of veterans want to pay their respects at national cemeteries, they rely on tools like online directions, cemetery maps and a grave finder — or they contact cemeteries directly for help. With nearly 4 million graves in VA’s National Cemetery Administration (NCA) system, having reliable data networks is crucial as the backbone of the support capabilities that VA personnel and veteran families rely on. .

It is important to have sufficient bandwidth, that is, the maximum amount of data that we can transmit through an Internet network connection in a given period of time. This bandwidth helps NCA staff collaborate efficiently through Microsoft Teams and access data on shared drives. The upgraded capability supports many capabilities, systems, programs, and applications, such as geospatial services, cloud-based technology, business intelligence dashboards, and more.

The NCA administers 155 VA National Cemeteries and funds 119 state, territorial, and tribal veterans’ cemeteries by providing dignified burial at national shrines for veterans and eligible family members.

Beginning in 2020 – and continuing to gain momentum throughout 2022 and beyond – VA’s Office of Information and Technology (OIT) has partnered with NCA to improve network circuits in cemeteries and NCA offices. In an effort to modernize infrastructure and increase bandwidth across NCA, OIT is replacing T-1 circuits with more efficient Metro-Ethernet (Metro-E) fiber optic cables/circuits.

Data network circuitry upgrades began in July 2020 as part of the initiative to upgrade more than 100 national VA cemeteries and sites nationwide. The modernization effort began when the NCA, together with the ILO Account Management Office – Commemorative Affairs team, partnered to identify a business need and formalized the requirements for obtaining funding from the design to implementation. Nearly half of these sites require data network circuit upgrades. So far, the team has upgraded over 30 sites and fewer than 15 remain. Data network circuitry upgrades are on track to be successfully completed in fiscal year 2023 .

The iterative upgrade from old copper cables to modern fiber optic cables increased circuit size and enabled up to 1100 megabytes of bandwidth per site, a huge improvement over existing network capabilities. If sites need more bandwidth or upgrades once they’re on fiber optic cables, delivering upgrades is as easy as flipping switches for local carriers, rather than having to lay new cables. The increased bandwidth allows site staff to complete their work more efficiently, with fewer interruptions, and allows veterans and their families to access facility resources and communicate with staff with ease. and efficiency.

“This project is contributing to our bottom line,” said Chris Thornton, LAN/WAN engineer and service provider for the ILO. “This brings us closer to NCA’s goal of a modernized system of registration and a cloud-based system, while addressing one of VA’s key strategic priorities: the transformation and modernization of the registration system. ‘company.”

Once the data network circuit modernization initiative is complete, NCA cemeteries and offices will have more reliable bandwidth, including internet access, which the NCA can rely on to serve them as well. than our veterans.

You can learn more about NCA benefits and services by visiting these helpful links:

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