LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The bodies of 28 veterans at the L.A. County Morgue were finally moved Friday for burial to the Riverside National Cemetery.
CBS2/KCAL9 pressed the L.A. County Coroner’s Office Thursday to find out why the bodies had not yet received a proper burial after a source indicated there may have been as many as 60 veterans at the morgue for the past year and a half.
The morgue says the bodies were unclaimed and they don’t know how long the veterans were there.
The law states veterans are supposed to receive a proper burial.
The Veterans Administration says they were never notified the bodies were processed and ready to be buried.
More than two dozen bodies were transported to the Riverside National Cemetery Friday afternoon and more could be moved as they are identified.
On Friday evening, KCAL9’s Stacey Butler reported the LA County Morgue and the Veteran’s Administration were blaming each other for the mistake.
Butler reported from the National Ceremony where the bodies are scheduled for burial.
She spoke to citizens who were outraged at how the deceased vets were treated.
“I think its incomprehensible,” said Richard Burns, a Marine veteran.
“It’s kinda sad that these people don’t get the proper care that they deserve,” Burns said. “Even after death.”
Every Wednesday morning, Butler reports former Marine Corporal Burns goes to the Riverside National Cemetery and volunteers to lead memorial services for the unclaimed and often indigent vets.
Often Burns and a handful of volunteers are the only people in attendance.
By email, a spokesperson for the LA County Morgue pointed the finger at the VA.
They wrote, “…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.”
Cindy Van Bibber, a VA spokesperson said, “There’s personnel changes every day but that certainly doesn’t take away from the service that we provide any veteran.”
She says “at no point” did the City Morgue contact the VA and tell them about the bodies piling up there.
“We definitely weren’t contacted or we would have had a service for the veteran,” she added.
Van Bibber said the process to get a proper burial should take about three days, not a year and a half.