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DoD Confirms Current Method of Handling Remains

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2003 – The current method of handling the remains of U.S. service members will remain in place, DoD officials said today.

Senior defense officials examined the policy of handling human remains contaminated by biological or chemical weapons.

They wanted to be certain that all options were open to commanders to ensure the health and safety of all service members. The group which included representatives from the services, the Army's mortuary affairs, DoD's health affairs and DoD's personnel and readiness staffs wanted to ensure that any decision was based on the latest medical thinking.

The result was to validate the way remains are already handled. Human remains contaminated by biological or chemical weapons will not be cremated. Nor will mortuary affairs personnel bulldoze mass graves, said DoD officials.

"Cases involving contaminated remains will be handled with the dignity and respect accorded to all remains and processed by mortuary and medical personnel consistent with applicable laws and procedures to ensure the health of the living," DoD officials said.

The policy review began in September 2002 and ended earlier this month.

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