Stars & Stripes reporter, Matt Burke, has done an excellent job of telling the story of my Cousin and other MIA’s who were buried as Unknowns. Click here for the story.
Here is a great story from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about a family’s quest to recover the remains of a family member lost during WWII. It shows what can be accomplished when the U.S. Government gets out of the way.
Its official; the senator who said she was going to fix the MIA accounting mess gave in to the special interests.
The senator who demanded “Greater focus, transparency on search for war remains” quietly proposed the problem be studied for another year. And no, there was no provision for putting WWII families on equal footing with MIA families from later conflicts. The greatest generation gets second class status.
Senators McCasill, McCain and Ayotte proposed amendment 2171 to Senate bill 1197, the National Defense Authorization Bill (NDAA) which would require the Department of Defense to “study” reorganizing the DoD MIA accounting community. Same people doing the same jobs and completely ignoring the needs of MIA families.
Just to make it look like the amendment is something other than a complete reprieve for JPAC, the amendment requires the DoD to report to congress on a long list of irrelevent issues, most of which are already known. It looks like they can’t even spell reform in Washington because the bureaucrats and politicians stick together.
I guess if there is good news, the Senate started squabbling about how many amendments each side would be allowed to present and nothing got done. Then the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Reed, exercised the so called “nuclear option” that essentially shut down the entire senate for the day and it is likely that nothing will get done in the near future.
Perhaps the Senate is much like JPAC and we would all be better off without them.
Stars and Stripes reported this week that legislation is in the mill to give the Defense Department a year to come up with a plan to clean up its besieged POW/MIA accounting operation.
Coming on the heels of a scathing GAO report; a recently expanded DoD Inspector General investigation; extensive negative media attention; and, litigation seeking to make the DoD comply with its obligations in MIA accounting, JPAC would seem to be on its last legs and many of us thought the end of the misery was in sight. However, an additional year from some unspecified date would seem to be more of a reprieve than a crackdown.
While such shenanigans are expected from the entrenched bureaucrats at JPAC, the surprise was that the apparent reprieve was being proposed by Senator Claire McCaskill – one of the very persons who has been championing meaningful reform in the MIA accounting community.
Everyone I asked thought it looked like a sell out and could see no benefit to waiting an additional year for any reform in MIA accounting. Most of the responses were not “G” rated, but one friend asked how many elderly family members would pass away without the closure of knowing the fate of their family member.
Something just didn’t sound right so I fired off an email to Senator McCaskill’s committee counsel who responded almost immediately to ask what part of the proposal was objectionable. I explained that only in Washington would it be acceptable to give an agency more than a year to clean up their act. We both agreed that not only is serious reform necessary at JPAC, but that considering the time necessary to clean up the mess, perhaps some “family relief” might be in order.
I’m not sure how an agency can be mandated to deal honestly and transparently with families who deserve no less, but we agreed to give it some thought and see what we could come up with.
Give it some thought and let us know what your ideas are.
Chicago family fights to get WW2 hero`s remains brought home
Yesterday NBC News posted a story about the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) conducting MIA arrival ceremonies with empty transfer cases. JPAC now says the transfer cases were not empty and actually contained the remains of some previously recovered unidentified remains. Somehow, the presence of previously returned and still unidentified human remains makes it OK to stage “arrival ceremonies.” Perhaps they should take all of the more than 700 sets of unidentified remains stored in their lab for periodic walks to get a little sunshine and fresh air.
Here is the original web posting
It seems to me that using human remains as “props” in these arrival ceremonies is inherently disrespectful if these human remains did not just arrive on U.S. soil as is represented by ceremoniously removing them from an aircraft – after all, what’s the purpose of the aircraft? To provide shade? The only thing the DoD response confirms is that DoD just doesn’t “get it.”
Here’s some of the press followup on the story:
Here is the official video posted by the JPAC PAO - see if you think JPAC has intentionally deceived the public about actually returning remains. Note that it is titled, “JPAC Arrival Ceremony.”
Here is JPAC’s official response to the original NBC News article.
Note that JPAC insists that human remains are present in the transfer cases, but treated with respect and dignity. Yet, the original article includes a photograph of a stack of unattended and undraped transfer cases waiting to be loaded on a bus.