On Thursday, the L.A. County Coroner’s Office made the shocking claim to local media, that the bodies of as many as 60 veterans have been stored in the county morgue, some for well over ayear, while county officials wait for the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA) to claim them. Most of these vets were impoverished, some were likely homeless and died apart from their families.
A spokesperson for the L.A. County Morgue said that the deceased veterans "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," CBS Los Angeles reported.
Though the VA has denied any responsibility in this scandal, a day after the report aired, 28 bodies were removed from the morgue and taken to Riverside National Cemetery on Friday for burial.
According to the VA's website, veterans are entitled to burial in any of the country's 131 national cemeteries, along with a "headstone or marker," and cremated remains will be "buried or inurned in national cemeteries in the same manner."
Additionally, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2000 guarantees that anyone who has been honorably discharged from the military is eligible to receive full military funeral honors. This includes the blowing of taps as well as the folding and presentation of the U.S. flag to the decedent's family.
This disturbing story out of Los Angeles raises a very troubling question...Just how many more of our deceased veterans lie on ice in morgues across this nation, awaiting a proper burial?
A few weeks ago, we were told by the Obama administration that the practice of placing veterans on 'secret waiting lists' while they awaited in many cases, life-saving treatments, was isolated to the veterans hospital in Phoenix. Of course, we now know that was a lie, as the number of hospitals involved in the growing scandal now sits at 26.
Just as in the case of the Phoenix facility, when the VA initially denied any culpability in the deaths of our veterans awaiting care, then denied that the problem was a common one throughout the VA health care system...We are seeing the same pattern of denials with what amounts to the desecration of not only our military veterans bodies, but to that of their service as well.
How sad it is that on this Memorial Day, we have an administration that not only denies treatment to our sick and injured veterans, but a proper burial as well when these folks who have given so much, leave this earthly realm.