By Charlie De Mar
September 26, 2016
(CBS) – The bodies of military veterans lay unclaimed for weeks at a time at the Hines VA Hospital, a whistleblower alleges.
Staff from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington are in town looking into that complaint.
CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reports.
When 68-year-old Marine veteran George Taylor died, no family or friends claimed him. Earlier this month, Jackie Gluekert and her funeral home made sure the hero got a dignified send-off — a burial in an a national cemetery.
“It is a final salute, and I’m proud to do it,” Jackie Glueckert says.
A whistle-blower inside the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital says unclaimed vets aren’t getting the proper goodbye they deserve.
Internal emails obtained by CBS 2 reveal at least two unclaimed vets sat inside the morgue for at least 30 days this summer, allowing the bodies to badly decompose.
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And from the VA rules,
***If a Veteran dies while at a VA facility under authorized VA admission, and the remains are unclaimed, the facility director will ensure proper burial for the Veteran as defined by VHA Handbook 1601B.04, Decedent Affairs, Section 8, “Unclaimed Remains.” If a Veteran dies at a non-VA facility under authorized admission at VA’s expense, and is unclaimed, contact the closest VA healthcare facility to arrange for proper burial of the unclaimed Veteran. A listing is available here.