Funeral Homes’ Help Sought in Identifying Veterans’ Remains

Funeral Homes’ Help Sought in Identifying Veterans’ Remains

A New Jersey chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America is seeking the help of the state’s funeral homes in identifying unclaimed cremated remains of U.S. service veterans and eligible family members in an effort to provide a dignified burial in a state veterans cemetery.

The Vietnam Veterans of America Shore Area Chapter 12 in Oakhurst wants funeral homes to allow the chapter’s members to have access to any unclaimed cremated remains in their buildings in order to determine if any are honorably discharged veterans or family members eligible for burial in Brigadier General William C. Doyle Memorial Cemetery in Arneytown.

No veteran deserves to be forgotten for his or her sacrifice to this great nation,” said chapter member Rich Gough. “No person should be forgotten by their family. All too often, families never realized that their loved one was left on a shelf.”

Under an expanded New Jersey law signed in 2021, funeral homes can allow a qualified veterans organization to receive the cremated remains of veterans or eligible family members if those remains have not been claimed by a relative or friend within one year after cremation. 

Gough said the time commitment for funeral homes is minimal. Once his group is granted access to the unclaimed cremated remains, members catalogue the remains, marking them with a location number. They then provide an Excel spreadsheet with the name, date of death and assigned location number.

“We then do all the investigation including acquiring any death certificates needed,” Gough said. “The only time required by the funeral home is when we perform the inventory, on occasion,” provide additional information they may have in their files and finally to turn over the cremains determined to be veterans or spouses and accept a copy of our records required by law.”

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Ask the Manager

The NJSFDA Manager of the Day program provides members with a resource for addressing and resolving problems that arise in the daily operations of their funeral homes. Here are some matters that were brought to the attention of the Manager of the Day in recent months.

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