Thursday, November 10, 2011

Residual Remains

Let's remember Veterans Day with a different kind of heartbreak, shall we?Sorry, I can't seem to find the original article, but this follow up piece should suffice.

(The original headline gave the impression that soldier's bodies were being dumped in a landfill. That is not entirely true, but still, the thought of it is enough to bring shudders.)
Schwartz addressed another controversial practice, since abandoned, at Thursday's hearing: body parts of war dead had been cremated, incinerated and then dumped in a landfill until 2008. That happened in cases where residual remains were found after families received the bodies of their loved ones.

An Air Force official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that families had granted the military authorization to deal with any residual remains, but acknowledged they had not been made aware those remains would end up in a landfill.
According to the previous article, the remains under question constitute residual remains that had been identified after the body had been returned to families. I'm assuming these mainly constituted small parts, fingers or chunks of flesh and bone that were scooped up after an explosive death.

The families, as quoted, granted the military authorization to deal with residual remains, but what is missing is how that authorization was granted:
Was it included in a form, or series of forms, that a family signs when receiving a body, buried somewhere in the fine print, embellished with legalese?
Or was it more explicit, as in... Hey, we found a a pinky finger that we've identified as belonging to your loved one who was interred two months ago? You want that back, or should we respectfully handle that for you.

The context of the 'authorization' matters here, and it matters a whole lot.

However it was done, what amazes me is that somebody in the process dared to assume that a landfill is an appropriate and respectful depository for any human remains, let alone those who died while in service to their nation.

What is wrong with these people? It never occurred to her/him to simply scatter them over Arlington National Cemetery?
Was it that hard to figure out?


John said...

Bureaucracies and the bureaucrats they are made up of will follow the path of least resistance. For the past five years the AF has been reducing its work force, asking each to do a little more, a little faster, and with less direction. This is what happens when they lose sight of the humanity, and it becomes a logistics issue.

Just ask the GA crematorium operator Rey Brent Marsh.

This pains me deeply and I feel sorry for the families and an old friend, Gen Schwartz, who has been put in the unenviable position of explaining this mess.

Gino said...

there are a lot of questions that so far remain unaswered for me.

i'm wondering...maybe the remains were classified as medical waste (logical) and somebody hadnt thought of where medical waste ends up?

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