- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

GAINESVILLE, Mo. (AP) - The federal Department of Veterans Affairs is investigating reports that a southern Missouri patio and staircase is made out of military gravestones.

Navy veteran Ed Harkreader of Mountain Home, Arkansas, posted on social media last week photographs of the arrangement he found on property in Ozark County, near the Arkansas line, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1TNNJI8 ) reported.

“This isn’t the way you should use military headstones,” 55-year-old Harkreader, who served in the Navy for 22 years, told the newspaper. “This is disrespectful of military veterans.”

Chris Erbe, a National Cemetery Administration spokesman, said the VA’s inspector general’s office is investigating.

It’s unclear where the stones in Ozark County came from. Markers sometimes are inscribed with errors or typos and are supposed to be destroyed, and stones often are replaced rather than re-inscribed when spouses die and are buried at the same site.

“They are not to be used for any kind of home improvement project,” Erbe said.

The Post-Dispatch said a check of online grave services indicates some of the stones were for gravesites in California, Alabama and Texas. The markers in Harkreader’s photographs appear to be relatively new, with several showing death dates in the 2000s.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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