Veterans’ bodies to finally get proper burials
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The bodies of more than two-dozen U.S. veterans at a Southern California morgue will finally receive proper burials, officials said.
After months of speculation, the bodies of 28 veterans were moved Friday for burial from the Los Angeles County Morgue to the Riverside National Cemetery, KCBS-TV reported.
The morgue and Veterans Administration appear to blame each other for the delay, the station added.
“I think it’s incomprehensible,” said Richard Burns, a Marine Corps veteran who goes to the Riverside National Cemetery and volunteers to lead memorial services for the unclaimed and often indigent vets.
Often, Burns and a handful of volunteers are the only people in attendance.
“It’s kinda sad that these people don’t get the proper care that they deserve,” Burns said. “Even after death.”
Morgue officials said that the veterans’ bodies were unclaimed and they didn’t know how long they were there, blaming the Veterans Administration for the delay.
The bodies of as many as 60 veterans may have been at the morgue for the past year and a half, the TV station reported.
“There are about 60 decedents of probable veteran status that have awaited disposition for about a year as a result of a personnel change in the Veterans Affairs office and stringent identification/eligibility processes required by the VA,” the morgue said in an email to the station.
Meanwhile, Cindy Van Bibber, a VA spokeswoman, said the agency was never notified by the morgue that the bodies were processed and ready to be buried. A proper burial should take about three days, she said.
Van Bibber said that “at no point” did the morgue contact the VA and tell the agency about the bodies piling up there. “We definitely weren’t contacted or we would have had a service for the veteran,” she said.
By law, a veteran is supposed to receive a proper burial.
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