Archive for the ‘U.S. Office of Special Counsel’ Category

Special Counsel Calls Conduct at U.S. Military’s Mortuary “Deeply Troubling”

November 9, 2011 Comments off

Special Counsel Calls Conduct at U.S. Military’s Mortuary “Deeply Troubling” (PDF)
Source: U.S. Office of Special Counsel

The Office of Special Counsel confirmed four disclosures by multiple whistleblowers of serious misconduct at the U.S. military’s Port Mortuary in Dover, Delaware, which is run by the U.S. Air Force. The OSC mandated that the Air Force investigate the allegations. The Air Force investigation confirmed most of the whistleblower’s factual allegations but it nonetheless failed to admit wrongdoing. The Air Force did, however, respond positively by changing numerous practices at the mortuary.

In two separate incidents, body parts of service members killed while on active duty were lost by the Port Mortuary. The Air Force acknowledged its “negligent failure” in these incidents, but still concluded that there was no obligation to notify the families.

In another matter, a U.S. Marine was dismembered with a saw in order to make the body fit inside a military uniform, without the consent or notification of the family. The Marine’s left arm bone protruded at a 90-degree angle from his body, but rather than asking the family of the deceased for guidance, the mortuary director ordered it removed and, according to the whistle blower, told his staff to place the arm in the soldier’s trouser leg. In its investigation, the Air Force stood by those decisions.

In addition, in five instances fetal remains of military families were shipped to Dover inside plastic pails, which were in turn placed in non-reinforced, used cardboard boxes, even though military guidelines require that remains be treated with “reverence, care and dignity.” The Air Force acknowledged that this handling was “substandard” and that it “wasn’t very dignified,” but nevertheless said the remains were afforded the requisite reverence, care and dignity.

Finally, whistleblowers alleged that management at the mortuary failed to fully notify staff that a corpse was possibly infected with contagious tuberculosis, potentially exposing mortuary staff. The Air Force concluded that adequate notice had been given.

+ Full Report (PDF; via New York Times)


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