In a disturbing story that has broken on Memorial Day weekend, the bodies of about 60 deceased military veterans were disgracefully left to decompose at the Los Angeles County Morgue for about a year and a half because of seeming bureaucratic indifference.
According to the morgue, the veterans’ bodies were never claimed by loved ones.
By law, they are eligible to be honored in a proper military funeral service, which should take place in no longer than three days once their veteran status has been confirmed.
The development has resulted in finger-pointing between morgue officials and the VA, which is also engulfed in an ongoing scandal about treatment or lack thereof of returning vets at military hospitals.
“The Veterans Administration says they were never notified the bodies were processed and ready to be buried.”
On Friday, perhaps as a result of adverse publicity, 28 or more of the bodies of the brave veterans who have been identified were transported to Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside Calif. for burial.
In an email statement, an LA County Morgue representative claimed that “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.”
A VA representative disagreed with this assessment.
“There’s personnel changes every day but that certainly doesn’t take away from the service that we provide any veteran… We definitely weren’t contacted or we would have had a service for the veteran.”
As far as the other veterans’ bodies that have piled up, “It’s not clear what’s to happen to the rest of the bodies that have been at the morgue, awaiting clearance for burial for over a year.
Said Marine vet Richard Burns, who volunteers each week to lead memorial services at Riverside military cemetery for unclaimed and indigent deceased heroes: “It’s kind of sad that these people don’t get the proper care that they deserve, even after death.”