When an American soldier is killed, many families give the U.S. military permission to dispose of any additional body parts that are recovered without notifying them.
Gari-Lynn Smith says the parents of her Army sergeant husband chose that option.
Smith says they were assured that any remains that were found would be buried with full military honors. Instead, they were thrown into a southern Virginia landfill.
"I was told no one wanted my husband and so he was cremated with the rest of the medical waste and thrown in the trash," she said.
Smith's discovery led to an investigation into the mortuary at Delaware's Dover Air Force Base.
Military officials acknowledged that between 2003 and 2008 body parts that were unidentified or recovered from the battlefield, were cremated and dumped in the landfill.
They say that since that time their practices have improved. Now unclaimed and unidentified body parts are cremated and buried at sea.
However, Colorado state Rep. Mike Coffman (R) is demanding that more changes be made in the way military remains are handled.
He says civilian contractors should not be involved in the process.
"If military personnel fail to adhere to their duties, they're subject to the military code of ethics to be prosecuted," Coffman said.
Coffman says he wants to see something be done to ensure what happened to the Smith family doesn't happen again.