I can’t imagine the pain and stress of a service member’s funeral. The hurt, confusion and anger of losing a loved one on top of dealing with paper work and red tape would drive anyone to emotional extremes.
Turns out state law — not DoD paperwork — is the determining factor in who claims the body. In one case, that meant an absent father got preference over the single mother who raised a fallen soldier, even though the soldier had designated his mother as his emergency contact. The father decided to bury the son in a state he’d never even been to. The mother was understandably devastated.
In Georgia, the new law requires the state to be true to the service member selected on DoD forms. Several other states are following.
We can’t legislate civility among fractious families. But if new laws can guarantee a service member’s final wishes are respected, surely that can be of some comfort to grieving families.