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2013 Health / Veterans Affairs Department

Steve Muro, Undersecretary, Memorial Affairs

"We only have one chance to get it right." That's the mantra Muro brings to the National Cemetery Administration, a sprawling subgroup of the VA responsible for managing and maintaining the 131 national cemeteries. Having served two tours with the Navy in Vietnam, Muro knows the agony experienced by families of fallen soldiers. His primary responsibility is "customer service"—giving these families exactly what they want in burying their loved ones, and sparing them the logistical complications that often accompany funeral planning. Muro has traveled a long, winding road to the senior ranks of the VA. Originally from Orange, Calif., he served in the Navy, attended Mt. San Antonio College, and briefly worked in the private sector before landing a job as an auto mechanic at the Los Angeles National Cemetery. Over the next 35 years, he climbed the National Cemetery Administration's leadership ladder, working in a plethora of managerial positions before being named acting undersecretary for memorial affairs in 2009, an appointment that became permanent in June 2011. Muro, 63, said those experiences have given him a unique appreciation for the agency's thousands of employees around the U.S.—and for the dedication they bring to an incredibly difficult job. "I'm always getting letters from the families, thanking me for the work our employees do," he said, "even though this is the toughest time of their lives."

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