As a veteran, I am sure that you recall the horrific Washington Post article from April 5th, 2009 regarding the storage of deceased veterans’ bodies at the National Funeral Home. National Funeral Home embalms and stores the bodies for Arlington Funeral Home, Danzansky-Goldberg Memorial Chapel, and Demaine Funeral Home in Alexandria and Springfield. Many of the deceased were veterans.
The article stated that bodies were improperly stored and bodily fluids were leaking all over the floors. I wrote a letter to the Virginia Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers to make sure this situation never happens again.
As your representative, I expressed your outrage to the Virginia Board. Because of the pressure put on the Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers by me and other elected representatives, the Board aggressively pursued new regulations on the industry. The regulation you will find most interesting is the one dealing with the storage of bodies. Attached, you will find a copy of this Virginia Board_of_Directors_Meeting_Minutes to read.
I also met with executives of the National Funeral Home. I am pleased to tell you that they have been active in assuring that none of their affiliates mistreat bodies. They even went to Dover Air Base where our fallen soldiers are received and studied how “the best of the best” honor these soldiers. National Funeral Home will be implementing new protocols based upon this study.
I gave you my word that I would not let the ball drop on this, and, as a result, new regulations are now in place. My next step is to increase oversight on the industry. The current method is complaint driven. In other words, inspections are only done if a complaint is made. Thus, if no one ever knows about improper behavior, no inspections are done. I believe a system of regular unannounced inspections will be the only way to make sure that these regulations are followed.
David B. Albo