Veterans Cemeteries: You May Have to Keep Grandpa on Ice if the Shutdown Continues


Just when you thought the intentional infliction of public pain during the partial government shutdown could not possibly get any worse, the Obama administration is now threatening dead people:

Each national cemetery will conduct a reduced number of burials each day. This could cause some families to pay for storage of their loved ones’ remains until burials can be scheduled. Although there may be possible delays in scheduling internments [sic], NCA will continue to provide services to our Veterans and their families during their time of need with the utmost dignity, respect and compassion.

The VA says it will run out of money in late October and will begin to implement its “lapse in appropriation shutdown plan,” furloughing up to 1,063 of 1,809 National Cemetery Administration (NCA) employees. A Veterans Field Guide to Government Shutdown, posted on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website, lists interments  under “Services to Veterans Impacted by a Lapse in Appropriations,” saying “Interments at National Cemeteries will be conducted on a reduced schedule.” (Incidentally, the “play” and “pause” buttons on the Veterans Field Guide are not operational — has the Canadian programmer group hit again?)

Sean Baumgartner, director of the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman, said there will be a “reduced interment schedule” at the Ohio cemetery. Ohio Western Reserve Cemetery (where my husband’s grandfather is buried) ordinarily conducts eight or nine burials a day. Last week there were 17 burials on Monday. The NCA will restrict the number of interments to eight per day at mid-level cemeteries if the shutdown drags on beyond the end of (8)

In addition, the VA may not be able to provide “headstones, markers, medallions and outer burial receptacles to Veterans and eligible family members.” And maintenance operations will cease. So, if and when your 90-year-old grandpa — or your 27-year-old son who was killed in action — finally makes it to the top of the waiting list, maybe he’ll be dumped in an unmarked grave in a plot of knee-high grass. If you’re lucky, they’ll put him in the right grave. And while you’re waiting for his number to come up, keep in mind that you’re going to have to pay to store him somewhere (do they make refrigerated FEMA trailers?).

There is one silver lining for families waiting in the interment line: the National Cemetery Administration websites have handy links to the Affordable Care Act site. Because, you know, you’ll have all that free time on your hands while you’re waiting for someone to dig that grave — and what better way to spend it than fighting with the aggravating website? The only question is whether you yourself will live long enough to make it through the sign-up process on the poorly designed site. Sign up for Obamacare or die trying.

Once again, those who served our country — some of whom paid the ultimate price for our freedom — get the short end of the stick. Grieving families are made to suffer more so that the president and the Democrats can use dead veterans as a weapon to bludgeon Republicans.