Ohio congressman introduces "Veterans Missing in America Act"

Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, has introduced legislation supporting an effort to identify and inter the abandoned cremated remains of military veterans. Inspired by the Missing in America Project (endorsed by The American Legion), the bill is intended to ensure that the remains of unknown military veterans are no longer left neglected in funeral homes and hospitals. “It’s easy for the remains of veterans to slip through the cracks,” Tiberi said. “If there is no next of kin identified, these former military servicemembers’ remains are often kept indefinitely at funeral homes, literally sitting on a shelf.” American Legion National Commander David K. Rehbein encouraged adoption of the Veterans Missing in America Act, sponsored by Tiberi. “Those who have served our country in uniform deserve special recognition and respect in death, as well as in life,” he said. In May 2007, the Legion formally endorsed the Missing in America Project, which inspired Tiberi’s legislation. MIAP volunteers, many of them Legionnaires, request records from mortuaries with the aim of taking custody of abandoned veterans’ cremated remains and interring them with military honors.  “Some (funeral homes) are appreciative and open their doors wide,” said Fred Salanti, MIAP’s national executive director and founder. “Others, especially the big chains, absolutely forbid their people to help us. That’s where The American Legion is a tremendous asset. As a veterans service organization authorized by Congress and the nation, it commands a different level of respect.”