A Georgia funeral home's treatment of a deceased Vietnam War veteran has sparked widespread outrage on social media.
According to George Taylor's family, the Heritage Funeral Home would not provide a coffin for the visitation service because the family failed to make a $9,000 life insurance payment on time. An image uploaded to Facebook on May 11 shows the Vietnam veteran lying on a gurney instead of inside a casket.
"This is what Heritage Funeral Home did to this United States veteran," Ella Moss wrote in the Facebook post. "Heritage was told by insurance company that their check would be there tomorrow. They had to receive the death certificate first, before releasing the check. They overnighted the check to them. But they still refused to allow him to be put in a casket."
"This is how his friends and family had to see him," she continued. "I am in total disbelief … What a disgrace they have done to this soldier."
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Moss's Facebook post has since been shared more than 3,500 times and has received over 1,700 comments, with the majority of people expressing outrage at the funeral home's actions.
The deceased's son, James Taylor, said he was not notified of the issue until it was too late.
"At first we were OK with it but like I told the guy, I said this was very disrespectful to my dad," he told WTVC.
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James added that the funeral home would not bury his father until the $9,000 was paid.
"They came to me and told me that unless that $9,000 was paid, they couldn't put him into the ground, he would have to sit in the freezer until we paid it or the insurance came through," he said.
The funeral home denies any wrongdoing. A representative told WTVC that they did everything they could under the circumstances.
"We were trying to honor the request and let them have some closure by viewing their loved one," David Cummings said. "We serve this community. We love the community. We serve this community in everything we do."
Cummings added that the funeral home has been receiving threats from people who saw the image on Facebook.
George's sister-in-law defended the funeral home and indicated that the controversy was started by someone looking to make waves
"We shook on it," Beverley Roe said of the arrangement. "The three of us shook on it and then all of a sudden, somebody comes in and wants to stir up trouble."
"These guys haven't done anything," she said. "They were so nice."
George was reportedly placed inside a casket in time for his burial. The director of the Chattanooga National Cemetery, Charles Arnold, said he had personally reached out to the funeral home to make sure that a proper burial took place.
"We wanted to make sure that this burial would meet our standards as we would do with every veteran," Arnold said.