WASHINGTON (March 31, 2010) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today formally opened its Washington, D.C.-based Veterans Curation Program laboratory, the third of three such laboratories funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The lab is housed in The Historical Society of Washington, D.C., building.

The Corps is funding the three Veterans Curation Program laboratories with $3.5 million from the $4.6 billion appropriated for the Army's Civil Works program in the Recovery Act. The other two labs previously opened in Augusta, Ga., in October 2009 and in St. Louis, Mo., in December 2009.

The three sites were selected because they are home to high populations of veterans and returning wounded veterans.

"The Recovery Act has provided the Armed Forces and the Corps of Engineers with the unique opportunity to open and support the Veterans Curation Program laboratories," said the Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.

"No group of people has done more to forge our national identity throughout history than the veterans who have served and sacrificed for the nation," added Darcy. "We are privileged to be able to give our veterans an opportunity to continue shaping the nation through the work and training they are doing at these important facilities."

"The labs are providing veterans of all services with jobs and training in a variety of technical skills that will prepare them for other future employment," said Darcy. "In return, these veterans are providing critically needed curation support for the preservation, documentation and cataloguing of archaeological and historic properties that have come into the Corps' possession over the years."

In 1995, the Corps created the Center of Expertise for Curation and Management of Archaeological Collections in its St. Louis District to provide protocols and best management practices for maintaining heritage assets. The Corps has an extensive collection and has not been able to fully keep up with proper curation requirements under the National Historic Preservation Act.

The St. Louis District's Center of Expertise designed and is managing the implementation of the Veterans Curation Program. The Corps hired Brockington and Associates of Atlanta, Ga., to establish and manage the project's three laboratories.

Corps specialists and the contractor are working closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs and non-governmental returning wounded veterans groups to fill many jobs at the laboratories with veterans and disabled veterans. Jobs are being tailored and rotated to fit the medical needs of those disabled veterans who are unable to work a full day and to offer on-the-job training and work to more veterans.

About 10 veterans are being trained and employed for up to six months at each laboratory in computer, photographic and scanning technologies that will be applied to the rehabilitation of Corps archaeological collections and their associated records. After six months, another group of veterans will be rotated into each lab for training and employment. The technical skills learned at the labs will be transferable to potential future jobs outside the labs.