The VA Does the Unthinkable: Deceased Veterans Left Unclaimed and Decomposing Without Burial

Troops paying their final respects. (Photo: Public Domain)

Troops paying their final respects. (Photo: Public Domain)

September 30, 2016

By Lorra B.

Veteran’s Affairs hospitals have been in the spot light for unacceptable wait times, Hot-Line issues, and below standard care. For the VA hospital in Illinois, however, a new low has been reached.

Illinois VA hospital, Hines, already under fire for cockroaches and black mold in their kitchen, is now on the hot seat for “the bodies of dead patients left unclaimed in the morgue for up to two months without proper burial, whistleblower documents allege,” according to Fox News.

It was uncovered that thought the VA facility indeed had the funds available to provide deceased veterans proper burials but simply chose not to.

Mark Kirk, U.S. Senator from Illinois, complained about the situation to the VA secretary and even went so far as to present new legislation to prevent this from happening.

Kirk stated, “The VA should be sickened and embarrassed by yet another exposed case of corruption and mistreatment of our veterans at Hines. “I have personally called Secretary McDonald and asked him to fire Christopher Wirtjes, the Chief responsible for this shameful treatment of our veterans’ remains. Bureaucrats at Hines should spend as much time helping veterans as they do covering up neglect and abuse.”

Wirtjes was responsible for instructing staff to manipulate wait times last year and though he was not fired he was put on administrative leave.

The whistleblower painted a very grim picture of the Hines VA stating, “Some veteran’s remains have been left in our hospital morgue for 45 days or more until they are stacked to capacity at times.”

Alissa McCurley, Kirk’s deputy chief of staff, described a horrific situation of at least one body having been there so long that it literally liquefied and the “bag burst when staff had attempted to move.”

This type of gross neglect is unconscionable at best and goes against the moral fabric of this great nation. Kirk’s demand of Wirtjes firing comes a little too late.

On three separate occasions Wirtjes had been approached about permission to bury the unclaimed bodies and each time he refused.

A spokesman for the hospital, Rick Fox, stated that the allegations were a farce and that Wirtjes was and is following all laws regarding disposal of bodies.

Fox stated: “We take whistleblower allegations very seriously and absolutely agree that all of our veterans deserve dignity and respect, in life and in death. While our investigation into this matter is still ongoing, we have found allegations related to consistent problems with dignified and timely burials to be unsubstantiated. However, we have taken this opportunity to review our policies and procedures and are currently working to improve them.”

The Inspector General’s office stated, “”The OIG doesn’t confirm or deny the existence of any ongoing investigations.”

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By Lorra B.