Effect Measure

Bulldozers and forklifts at the VA

Old soldiers — and young ones, too — do die, but if there’s a flu pandemic with a lot of absenteeism in the workforce, the VA has plans to let them just fade away. Or something like that.

Families of veterans who die during a bird flu outbreak shouldn’t count on burying their loved ones in any of the 120 national cemeteries. The Department of Veterans Affairs foresees closing the military graveyards in a pandemic because of staffing problems.

The VA buries more than 250 veterans and eligible family members a day — about 93,000 a year. Itoperates cemeteries in 39 states and Puerto Rico.

Those burials could stop or be put on hold during a pandemic, presumably even as the tally of dead surges, according to a VA plan that lays out how it will cope with an influenza outbreak. The government is preparing for a worst-case scenario of nearly 2 million deaths in the United States in a pandemic. (AP via USAToday)

“Putting on hold” presumably means “rescheduled.” A bit of a hardship for the family, but no problem for the deceased. They’re on permanent hold (but of course our clergy will be quick to tell us their call is still important to — to whom? Nevermind.)

The VA acknowledges cemeteries will have to plan ways of allocating staff and plots for “significant numbers of burials if closure and rescheduling is not an adequate response,” according to the plan.

“If there’s truly a catastrophic kind of thing — whether it be a bird flu pandemic or a massive, terrorist-instigated attack that would claim tens or hundreds of thousands of lives — a lot of that frankly involves bulldozers,” said Mike Duggan, the American Legion’s deputy director for national security and a Vietnam veteran.

Bulldozers? Why don’t they just borrow some forklifts from the VA hospitals? With budget cuts, they’re often little more than warehouses for soldiers who no longer serve a purpose for the Department of Defense. And they can always restock.


  1. #1 Ana
    June 21, 2006

    And at least some restaurant owners/staff can run clean communal kitchens and take-out plus delivery services, turning haphazard products into simple palatable meals or packages that would furnish such.

  2. #2 Eric
    June 21, 2006

    Leaving aside the difficulties the Revere’s will discover when they attempt to dig with a Forklift…

    Our nation’s treatment of its veterans, regardless of one’s stance on the current war, is growing more and more shameful. It’s also rather alarming to see that one branch of the government’s “plan” for a pandemic is to give up and let other people deal with it.

  3. #3 revere
    June 21, 2006

    Eric: Couldn’t agree more. The forklift isn’t for digging. It’s for moving stock in the warehouse (aka, a VA Hospital).

  4. #4 Jenny
    June 21, 2006

    Google Bonus Army. Survivors of the trenches and the Great Influenza got tear gas, bayonets and flaming death from Uncle. (So did the babies and wives.) My point is that shameful treatment of veterans is nothing new in these United States.

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