El Paso – More than 150,000 homeless veterans exist in the U.S., many whose remains are unclaimed at their death and risk burial in pauper's graves. Now, after more than two years, the unclaimed cremated remains of two such veterans will finally be laid to rest in a national veterans cemetery through the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program.
U.S. Army Sgt. Dana J. Carr (1949-2008) and U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Harold Lee Gibson (1952-2007) will receive a graveside service conducted with military honors at 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Thurs., July 22, at Ft. Bliss National Cemetery, 5200 Fred Wilson Blvd. The service will include the folding and presentation of the American flag and the playing of taps with inurnment of their remains following.
"It's important to us that all veterans receive the honors in death that their service in life merited," said Mary Slawson, the office manager of Funeraria Del Angel Martin Central and co-chairperson of the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program in El Paso. "We're honored to be able to give these men the dignified military service they deserve," she said.
Carr, 59, and Gibson, 55, are veterans with no homes, no money, and no legal next-of-kin to make their funeral arrangements. Both served in Vietnam for more than three years and died alone in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Their bodies were cremated after death and remained unclaimed, stored with Dona Ana County, until now.
"These are veterans whose remains, for whatever reasons, have never been claimed by anyone as family and so have remained in the custody of Dona Ana County all these years," Slawson explained. "Their final resting place in the veteran's cemetery will now be well documented in the event that any family members of these veterans come forward in the future," she said.
Providing honorable services for those who have served their country is important to Dignity Memorial funeral providers. The Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program is a cooperative effort among Dignity Memorial funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers, El Paso Homeless Veterans Burial Program Committee, El Paso County Veterans Service Organization, Patriot Guard Riders, Dona Ana County Health and Human Services, Society of Military Widows and Linda Smith with the Missing in America Project. Dignity Memorial funeral and cemetery will provide urns and coordination of the funeral service. Ft. Bliss National Cemetery will provide the opening and closing of the gravesite, a headstone at the National Cemetery.
The Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program is one of many efforts of the Dignity Memorial network to honor and support our nation's veterans and active military. Other initiatives and programs include the Veterans Planning Guide, the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall, educational veteran's seminars and special pricing for members of veterans service organizations.
Funeraria Del Angel Martin Central is a proud Dignity Memorial provider in El Paso. The Dignity Memorial network of more than 1,800 funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers is North America's most trusted resource for funeral and memorialization services. Dignity Memorial providers offer an unmatched combination of products and locations serving families with care, integrity, respect and service excellence. For more information, visit www.DignityMemorial.com.