Showing posts with label Dignity Memorial Program. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dignity Memorial Program. Show all posts

Monday, January 21, 2019

Unclaimed Tennessee veterans laid to rest with honor

Unclaimed veterans buried with dignity, thanks to strangers

The Associated Press
By: Adrian Sainz, Karen Pulfer Focht
January 20, 2019

Soldiers Arnold M. Klechka, 71, Wesley Russell, 76, and Marine Charles B. Fox, 60, were laid to rest in a service attended by about 700 people at West Tennessee Veterans Cemetery in Memphis on Thursday. There was a gun salute, and a bagpiper played “Amazing Grace.”
In this Jan. 17, 2019, photo, a retired U.S. Marine master gunnery sergeant salutes three Memphis veterans, Wesley Russell, 76, Arnold Klechka, 71, Charles Fox, 60, who died this past fall and whose remains were unclaimed, in Memphis, Tenn. (Karen Pulfer Focht/AP)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When the flags were removed from the caskets and folded with military precision, there were no family members there to receive them.

So, the banners were passed, hand-to-hand, through the crowd.

Some mourners wept as they clutched the flags briefly. Others kissed them. But the three veterans laid to rest on a rainy Memphis morning were strangers to most of those who gathered to honor their memory.

The service was part of a national effort by funeral homes, medical examiners, state and federal veterans' affairs departments, and local veterans' groups to pay final respects to members of the military whose bodies were not claimed by any relatives. Since 2000, Dignity Memorial and other funeral homes in more than 30 cities have organized about 3,000 funerals for soldiers, sailors and Marines who died alone, but still deserved a dignified funeral and burial, said Jeff Berry, Dignity's general manager in Knoxville.
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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Aubrey Gene Laney, Coast Guard Veteran To Be Laid to Rest

Memphis Funeral Home to bury homeless veteran with military honors
WMC Action News 5
Ashley Sharp
July 12, 2017

(Source: WMC Action News 5)
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A homeless veteran who died in March will finally be laid to rest on Thursday at the West Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery.

Aubrey Gene Laney, who served in the United States Coast Guard, passed away with no family members to make his funeral arrangements.

The Memphis Funeral Home and the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program decided to step in and provide Laney a public memorial service and internment with military honors befitting of a veteran.

Corey Hague, the location manager at Memphis Funeral Home, hopes that the community will come together to attend the service honoring a man who dedicated part of his life to serving the country.
read more here

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Seven Homeless Veterans Laid to Rest With Honor

 7 homeless veterans buried with military honors

All seven served in United States Army with duty spanning the World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf War eras. 
Private First Class Steven E. Womack, age 67, born in Knoxville, Tennessee on February 26, 1949.

Staff Sergeant William Donald Good, age 55, born September 16, 1961, home of record is Gardena, California and enlisted in service at Los Angeles, California

Sp4. James D. Wood, age 68, born March 23, 1948, in Knoxville, Kentucky, passed away November 15, 2016. Sp4 (T) Wood served in Vietnam. He enlisted in 1968 and served multiple tours in Vietnam while serving in the United States Army.

Sp4 Glendon Llewellyn Swift, age 67, born March 23, 1949 in Norfolk, Virginia passed away August 23, 2016. Sp4 Swift served with Co B. 1/38 Infantry, 2d Infantry Division and Company A, 1/14 Infantry 25 Infantry Division; stationed at Camp Howze, Korea. He was a former resident of Williamston, North Carolina.

Ronald Eugene Pollock, age 81, of Knoxville, born March 8, 1935, passed away April 9, 2016. Ronald served honorably in the United States Army in the 1950s.

Private First Class Claude R. Petree, age 88, born October 15, 1927, of Maynardville, Tennessee passed away July 26, 2016.

Specialist 3rd Class Benny Burton Solomon, age 83, born May 29, 1933 served with the United States Army in Korea from October 22, 1953 to October 21, 1955. Sp3. Solomon passed away November 13, 2016.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Homeless Air Force veteran, Casey Kathleen Finnegan to be buried with honor

First Female Veteran Honored in Portland through the Dignity Memorial® Homeless Veteran Burial Program 
February 21, 2017
This service will be unique with all lady veteran pallbearers at the conclusion of the graveside. Also, theater students from Clackamas High School, who are preparing to release a rendition of “A Piece of My Heart,” a true story of women who served in Vietnam, will be in attendance to pay tribute.
The public is invited, and encouraged, to attend. A reception will follow. (PORTLAND, Ore.) - A graveside service will be held at 1 p.m., Monday, Feb. 27, 2017 in Willamette National Cemetery to honor the life of Air Force veteran, Casey Kathleen Finnegan, a.k.a. Anne Kathleen Finnegan. 

Ms. Finnegan passed away Jan. 26, 2017 in Portland, Ore. with no family to claim her. The Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s office, Portland Veterans Administration and the State of Oregon Department of State Lands performed background checks to locate next of kin. 

The searches yielded no results. The medical examiner contacted Lincoln Memorial Park and Funeral Home, which they knew to be a Dignity Memorial® Provider and provider of funeral services through the Dignity Memorial® Homeless Veteran Burial Program. read more here

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Military Funeral For Homeless Veteran

Homeless veteran to receive military burial Area groups honor a man whose life remains a mystery
The Journal Gazette
Rosa Salter Rodriguez
March 30, 2016

A U.S. Army veteran who died homeless in Fort Wayne earlier this month will be given a military funeral today with the aid of several area veterans’ groups.

John Pawlowski, 69, died March 5 at Parkview Hospital of natural causes stemming from septic shock, according to Michael Burris, chief investigator for the Allen County coroner’s office. Septic shock is a full-body infection that causes organ shutdown.

Pawlowski’s birthdate, May 17, 1947, and his military service were verified through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Burris said. But much of his life remains a mystery, and no family members willing to step forward to claim the body could be found, he said.

Nonetheless, contacts made through the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program by staff members at Fort Wayne’s Klaehn, Fahl and Melton funeral home have yielded a chaplain to conduct the services, as well as members of about a half-dozen area veterans groups who make a practice of participating in military funerals.

They include the Indiana Patriot Guard Riders and American Freedom Riders motorcycle groups; members of American Legion Post 241 in Waynedale; a group of Army members in active service; and representatives of Fort Wayne’s Safe Haven home for veterans struggling with addiction.

David Wilson, Safe Haven’s regional program director, said the agency will receive the American flag typically given to members of a veteran’s family – even though Safe Haven never had contact with Pawlowski.

“To me, it’s tragic when you have someone who served his country and dies and has nothing and no one. It’s tragic, but it happens,” Wilson said, adding that it has happened two or three times in the Fort Wayne area in the past two years.
read more here

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Memorial For Homeless Veteran Attended by Hundreds

Hundreds Gather For Funeral Of Homeless Oklahoma Veteran 
6 News Oklahoma
Posted: May 01, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY - Hundreds packed into the chapel to say goodbye to Jerry Bryan Billings. Even more stood outside. Billings was born in 1945 in Sulphur. He died on Christmas Eve at the age of 69. 

For two months, Christine Hoffman with Oklahoma County Social services tried to track down his family. But after having no success, she contacted Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial program. And after word got out on social media about the memorial service, it went viral.

"This was just amazing, absolutely amazing, my heart is swollen," said Hoffman.

“The more people that will show up to celebrate the life of these veterans, the more meaningful it is,” said Chapel Hill Funeral General Manager, Todd Tramel.

“Sometimes it brings tears to you just because these men and women gave so much for our country and just to celebrate their lives, and to give back in a manner like this is beautiful.”
read more here - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Homeless Veteran John E. Miller Died Alone, Buried with Honors

John E. Miller: Full honors at funeral for homeless veteran
Ashleigh Walters
Sep 17, 2014

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - Wednesday John E. Miller was honored by a group of men who had never met him. They knew he was born in Akron, Ohio in 1950 and served honorably as an E-1 Private in the United States Army in 1970.

"Unfortunately in this case have not been able to locate any family or any friends," explained Bill Quinn with Dignity Memorial and a funeral services director.

Miller's body sat in a quiet room at Quattlebaum funeral home in West Palm Beach. The silver-toned casket was draped in an American flag. The chairs in the expansive room sat empty.

"He is cared for just like one of your loved ones would be. We take him into our care from his place of death. We bring him in and we take care of him. We dress him in clothes, whether he has clothes or not. He is dressed in, you know, in a brand new set of clothes. He is placed in a casket that we provide free of charge," explained Quinn.

Miller died homeless. The Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program is a network of funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers who work with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, local medical examiners, coroners, veterans advocates and veterans organizations to offer homeless and indigent veterans a proper burial.
read more here

Friday, January 10, 2014

Dignity Memorial lays Homeless Veteran to rest

Military honors for homeless veteran
The Wichita Eagle

Local affiliates of the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program sponsored a military funeral for homeless Army veteran Joseph Pluimer at Resthaven Cemetery.
Mike Hutmacher/The Wichita Eagle, Jan. 9, 2014

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sven Erickson, veteran killed in house fire lived alone and died alone

Veteran killed in house fire to receive proper burial
Gaston Gazette
By Diane Turbyfill
Published: Monday, November 26, 2012

Sven Erickson lived alone and died alone. But he won’t be alone when he’s laid to rest.

The 78-year-old Gaston County man perished in a house fire Nov. 12. The Navy veteran kept to himself and had few visitors aside from an occasional neighbor in Pine Grove Trailer Park.

Neighbors attempted to save Erickson when fire alarms rang out in his house. But he was overcome by smoke after a trashcan in his home caught fire.

A proud sailor, Erickson died the day after Veterans Day.

No one has since claimed his body.

The N.C. Medical Examiner’s Office is responsible for finding relatives in such a case.

But Sgt. Steven Dover with Gaston County Police felt an obligation to honor a local veteran.
read more here

Friday, November 9, 2012

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Oregon

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, traveling replica, on display during long holiday weekend
By Larry Bingham
The Oregonian
on November 07, 2012

Faith Cathcart, The Oregonian PORTLAND, OREGON - November 6, 2012 - Navy Veteran Daniel Brooks arrived at Skyline Memorial Gardens with the Patriot Guard Riders who accompanied the arrival of the Dignity Memorial Wall, a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Wall in Washington DC. Faith

The last time Dignity Memorial Gardens, a national chain of funeral homes and cemeteries, brought its replica Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall to Portland, Dan Wilhelm wanted to be a part of putting it together.

Wilhelm, a Vietnam vet, was at Lincoln Memorial Garden Cemetery in Southeast Portland in 2006 when the tractor trailer arrived. He was a member of the crew that set up the elevated ramp on a bed and soil and gravel and laid the 240 feet of walkway. When the 8-foot tall individual wall panels of faux granite were unloaded, he was one of four men who carried each from the truck and set it in place.

For 63-year-old Wilhelm, who was drafted into the Army in 1967 and enlisted in the Navy in 1977, "it was a privilege to touch" each of the panels.
read more here

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Military burials bring final dignity to homeless veterans

Military burials bring final dignity to homeless veterans
Stars and Stripes
Published: September 18, 2012

A veteran delivers the eulogy for a homeless Vietnam veteran who was buried last week with military honors through a charitable program. Three Gold Star Mothers look on in white. They go to the funerals to show support for the homeless veterans who normally die alone.

WICHITA, Kan. — He had nothing left to his name but his military service.

When the 64-year-old collapsed on the streets of this Midwestern city last month and soon died, he was homeless and alone — one of the 130,000 faceless veterans who go without shelter on any given night in this country.

Instead of being buried in a pauper’s grave — an ending that would have only reinforced his anonymous last years — the Vietnam veteran was again recognized as Army Sgt. Patrick Dunagan and honored with a military funeral.

Dunagan was laid to rest last week as part of a charitable effort called the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program. Funeral homes in 35 cities work to provide destitute veterans with proper funerals by donating the casket and other services, arranging the military ceremony and coordinating with the Department of Veteran Affairs to provide a headstone and burial at a national cemetery.
read more here

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall at Calverton National Cemetery

Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall Tells Stories
The replica of the Washington, DC Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall will be onview at Calverton National Cemetery this Wednesday through Sunday.
By Lisa Finn
June 18, 2012

A 15-year-old boy, who lied about his age to be able to fight in the Vietnam War.

Twelve female nurses. Eight clergymen. And over 58,000 others.

Although they may never have met, each shares a tragic and heroic destiny forged by war: Each of the 58,257 names inscribed on the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall, a traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, DC, that will be on view at Calverton National Cemetery from Wednesday through Friday, is forever memorialized.

"Behind every name, there is a story," said Charles Spencer, chairman of the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall.

And Spencer, a funeral director who has been involved with the project since 1995, has made it his personal mission to ensure that no one's story is forgotten.

Spencer said he was invited to bring the memorial to Calverton National Cemetery because it is the largest cemetery for veterans in the United States, with over a quarter of a million buried within its grassy knolls. "They take care of all the veterans, after they pass away for eternity. What better place to honor our veterans?" he asked.
read more here

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Military funeral held for homeless veteran in Westlake Village
By Rachel McGrath
Posted March 30, 2012
PHOTO BY CHUCK KIRMAN, VENTURA COUNTY STAR Air Force Staff Sgt. Daniel Stephens presents a U.S. flag to retired Army Lt. Col. Richard Kohlbrand at the military funeral for Richard Keachie of the Air Force at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Mortuary and Cemetery in Westlake Village on Friday.
Homeless veteran Richard Keachie, who died in Los Angeles on Jan. 29, received a military funeral Friday at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks in Westlake Village. All that is known about Keachie, whose remains were unclaimed, is that he was born in New Orleans on Feb. 24, 1933, and enlisted in the Air Force in 1952, serving until 1954. "He left this Earth in a way that we would not want him to leave this Earth, with nobody to be there for him on his final day,"

Valley Oaks operations manager Chester Perry said to the small group in the veterans area of the Memorial Park. "But you are here. You are his family this day," Perry said.

Keachie's funeral service and burial at Riverside National Cemetery were made possible through the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program, a collaboration among Dignity Memorial funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers, Riverside National Cemetery, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and local veterans organizations and veterans advocates. read more here

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dignity Memorial provides 1,000th military funeral for homeless veteran

Dignity Memorial® Network to Provide Military Burial for Homeless Portland Veteran
Homeless Veterans Burial Program provides 1,000th military funeral service

By Dignity Memorial network
Published: Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012 - 9:50 am
PORTLAND, Ore., Jan. 24, 2012 -- /PRNewswire/ -- Lincoln Memorial Park, a member of the Dignity Memorial network, will provide a funeral with full military honors on Jan. 25 at the Willamette National Cemetery for a homeless Portland veteran, the 1,000th burial provided through the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program.

Naval Petty Officer 2nd Class Stevenson L. Roy, a recently deceased homeless Vietnam veteran, will be buried at the Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, Ore., on Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 1:30 p.m.

"We are humbled to help provide the military honors that Mr. Roy deserves," said Jean-Christophe Aubry, market director for the Portland area Dignity Memorial providers. "It is a great privilege to show our community's deep gratitude for veterans like him who have given so much to our country."
read more here

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Funeral services held for three homeless veterans

Funeral services held for three homeless veterans
Posted on July 11, 2011 at 1:05 PM

DALLAS - Three US military veterans who helped protect our nation's freedom, only to spend the last years of their lives struggling to keep a roof over their heads were honored at the Dallas Fort Worth National Cemetery Monday.

With no known family members to honor their lives, the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial program put together a proper good-bye and their final resting place at the Dallas Fort Worth National Cemetery.

50-year-old Andres Muniz, who was recently found dead behind a Dallas liquor store. He was remembered for his four years of service as a US Marine from 1979 to 1983.

61-year-old Michael Reagan Gilmore

66-year-old Herman Dunlop

read more here
Funeral services held for three homeless veterans

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A veteran, anonymous in life, is honored in death

A veteran, anonymous in life, is honored in death
Published: Friday, April 01, 2011
By Susan Harrison Wolffis
Muskegon Chronicle
There was no eulogy for Andris Baltaisvilks Friday.

No tears. No funeral luncheon.

No photographs, carefully chronicling his journey from childhood to old age, visual memories of a life now gone.

There was almost no funeral.

When Baltaisvilks died March 15 at the age of 73 at Poppen Hospice Residence in Muskegon, he left behind no next-of-kin, no possessions, no one to make his final arrangements.

But someone at Poppen House — privacy laws don’t allow any more detail than that, said Mary Anne Gorman, Harbor Hospice’s executive director — had taken the time before Baltaisvilks’ passing to talk to him about his life and ask whether he’d ever been in the military.
The answer was yes.

Baltaisvilks, who immigrated to the United States from Latvia with his parents when he was 12 years old, served two years active duty in the U.S. Army from 1961 to 1963. He stayed in the Army Reserves until 1967.
read more here
A veteran, anonymous in life, is honored in death

Friday, March 4, 2011

American Legion Riders and Dignity Memorial bury 2 more veterans with honor

Program provides 2 homeless vets with military funeral
WICHITA, Kansas – Two Wichita veterans were laid to rest Thursday with full military honors. The men were both homeless with no money and no next of kin who could make funeral arrangements. But a program is taking charge in making sure homeless vets receive proper burial.

"These men stepped up, served our country honorably and they deserve the respect and the love,” said Ron Herndon with the American Legion Riders.

Navy veteran Franklin Myers and Marine veteran Kenneth Calhoun were honored for their service to the country flanked by American Legion Riders and active servicemen and women paying their final respects.

"We honor them for everything that they did and they deserve the total respect of what we do,” said Herndon.

Calhoun and Myers had both fallen on hard times. Both were homeless with nothing to pay for a burial and no legal next of kin to make funeral arrangements. But Thursday, they were given full military funeral services through the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program.
read more here

Program provides 2 homeless vets with military funeral

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Funeral of Homeless Vietnam Veteran Thomas Higginbotham who Died in Police Shooting

Funeral of Homeless Vietnam Veteran who Died in Police Shooting
Military Funeral of Thomas Higginbotham, 67, a homeless veteran who died in a police shooting after allegedly attacking them with a knife. Portland, Oregon. 01/02/2011
Thomas Higginbotham, 67, was buried at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, Oregon, with military honors. He had been homeless for an unknown period of time, and had been living in an abandoned carwash in Portland's southeast side.
He had been in the United States Army for approximately 2 1/2 years, and served at least one tour in Vietnam. His life after the service was troubled, and he had been arrested and imprisoned many times in California. At least one arrest was for assault. At the time of his death, he had neither relatives, money, nor address. The police, the Veteran's Hospital database, and even the FBI were unable to locate next of kin or connections. The Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program, founded in St. Louis in 2000, became involved.
read more here
Funeral of Homeless Vietnam Veteran who Died in Police Shooting

Grand jury reports: Portland police shot homeless veteran 10 times after he advanced holding a knife
Published: Friday, January 28, 2011, 7:58 PM

By Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian

Two Portland police officers fired 12 gunshots at Thomas Higginbotham on Jan. 2 when they say the homeless man inside an abandoned Southeast Portland car wash walked toward them holding a knife with an 8-inch blade.

Higginbotham, 67, was struck 10 times and died from wounds to the chest and abdomen, according to grand jury records released Friday. He had two other knives in his coat pocket, and a blood-alcohol content of .26.
read more here

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Funeral home shows honor to homeless veterans

Funeral home shows honor to homeless veterans
October 11, 2010|Stephen

Even though there are government programs to offer support to the men and women who have defended our country, many veterans end up on the streets with no one to give them a proper burial after death.

Seeking to give these heroes the dignity it feels they deserve, one company launched a national program with the help of several national groups to give veterans a full funeral and military service.

Kraeer Funeral Home, a Margate-based location of the Dignity Memorial chain of homes, did its first burial of a homeless veteran on
The funeral home provided embalming services, a casket, a flag, clothes and the procession to the cemetery, all which runs about $7,000, to honor Clay, said Marge Muth, local director of funeral services for Dignity Memorial.

"Even though they're homeless and have no family, we want to give them full military honors and eulogy," Muth said. "We all went up there and treated him like he was a top dog somewhere."
Funeral home shows honor to homeless veterans

They did it here in Orlando and they have done it many times across the country.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

Homeless vets get dignity in death

They were someone's son, someone's daughter. A husband, wife, brother, sister and many times, someone's parent. They were "veteran" to everyone in this nation and it is very sad that one of them dies forgotten and alone, but too many had to live forgotten and alone as well.

I have been to a few of these funerals and posted on many more. Dignity Memorial services honor the death of a veteran but they also honor the life they lived in service to this country.

Homeless vets get dignity in death
THE ISSUE: Homeless vet gets dignity in death.

September 30, 2010

For all the multitrillion-dollar military appropriations and congressional hearings and loud, political "support the troops" stump speeches, one of the good things being done for America's veterans is one you haven't heard much about.

The Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program, a cooperative among veterans organizations, advocates and cemeteries, is a way of giving a proper burial to homeless and/or indigent veterans who are too easily forgotten. The program gives those who served and then came upon hard times some dignity.

Last week, at the South Florida National Cemetery west of Lake Worth, Thomas Allen Clay became the first Broward County veteran to be buried with the help of the 10-year-old program. Five homeless veterans from Palm Beach County have been interred at the national cemetery.

The burial program is meaningful in Florida, where the number of homeless vets has been estimated at between 8,600 and 19,000. There could be as many as 250,000 homeless veterans nationwide.
read more here
Homeless vets get dignity in death