Cumberland Times-News

Columns

April 20, 2014

Restore them

Project identifies, inters vets’ remains

There are an estimated 47,000 deceased veterans whose remains are unidentified and unclaimed throughout the U.S. A group of senators and congressmen hope to do something to

bring these men and women some dignity after death.

Known as the Dignified Interment of Our Veterans Act of 2013, the legislation’s sponsors

include Rep. Bill Shuster and Sen. Pat Toomey, both Pennsylvania Republicans. There are a

number of co-sponsors in Pennsylvania and other states.

Some of the remains are stored in nothing more than nondescript metal canisters on shelves,

the sponsors state. “We just need the cooperation, No. 1, from all the funeral directors, medical examiners and coroners,” said John M. Fabry, Pennsylvania’s state coordinator for the Missing in America Project, a nonprofit that works to locate, identify and inter veterans remains. “It’s not a simple issue, but it’s something I think the veterans are entitled to.”

Shuster said, “Our veterans put their lives on the line to bravely protect our country, and we

owe them a debt of gratitude for their service. When they pass away, they should be treated

with the proper respect, but unfortunately the remains of thousands of veterans are currently

lying unclaimed in facilities across the country. It is crucial for Congress to address this issue and examine how we can improve the (Department of Veterans Affairs) process for dealing with these remains.”

The legislation would require the secretary of veterans affairs to study how unclaimed remains

are identified and processed.

Congress should pass this legislation posthaste and restore the dignity these deceased veterans so richly deserve.

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