Thursday, April 07, 2005

If Dead Soldiers Could Speak

Army Staff Sgt. Jason Hendrix was killed on February 16, 2005 by a roadside bomb near Ramadi, Iraq. Jason did not have a living will, had no designated power of attorney for his health care and left no written instructions for his family in the event he would be critically wounded or killed in action.

Due to this, Jason's divorced parents have been embroiled in a battle over his final resting place since February 24th when Jason's body was returned to California. This is the state in which he grew up and lived in until the age of 16 with his mother before parental custody was awarded to Jason's father and he was moved to Oklahoma to complete his last two years of high school.

When the Military returned Jason's body to California Jason's father (who lives near and works in Tulsa, OK) filed with the Military to bring his son's body to Oklahoma for burial based on a little known or used Military ruling that grants legal rights to the eldest parent in next-of-kin battles, which was granted by the Department of Defense. Jason's mother then filed a restraining order in California civil court preventing the removal of Jason's body to Oklahoma.

In a civilian court in California, the restraining order by Jason's mother on Jason's body was removed by Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Robert Yonts allowing Jason's father custody of Jason's body. Jason was buried in Tulsa, OK this past weekend.

But his story and his body has not been laid to rest. Since that time Jason's mother filed a petition with a Roger's County court in Oklahoma to vacate the order that gave custody of Jason's body to his father. At the same time, Jason's mother filed a motion with a California court to reconsider the soldiers burial in Oklahoma.

If Jason had left a living will or an advance directive, this controversy would not be occurring. Jason does not have a say now in what happens to his body, but if he did it would probably be, "Stand down, Mom. Let me rest."


posted by Is It Just Me? at 11:15 AM