Missing in America Project: Forgotten vets' new family

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Across the First Coast and the country, forgotten veteransare being remembered as a new family is stepping in to give them a proper burial.

The Missing in America Projectis a volunteer effort to identify and inter the unclaimed cremated remains of veterans.

"No family a lot of times, may be a husband says 'hold my cremains until my wife passes' and the family doesn't know that or no family because they move around so much," said Kathy Church from Neptune Beach who is the Missing in America coordinator for Florida.

Last week, 10 veterans whose remains were found in local funeral homes because they had not been claimed by family were given a military funeral service at the Jacksonville National Cemetery.

"Getting those gentlemen and ladies the recognition and honor they deserve," said Jim Steele of why he participates in the project.

His responsibility was labeling the final resting place for veterans who were laid to rest last week.

Volunteers spent countless hours poring over documents atfuneral homes to identify veterans who have not yet been buried. The process also involves documenting their military service.

"It's my way of giving back to what others have given," said Church.

Nationwide, the organization has located nearly 1,900 veteransand is giving the veterans amilitary burial, provided no family responds to a public notice of those plans.

Churchsaid another 90 veteranshave been identified for services that are planned next year.

The veterans, who have been deceasedin some cases for years now, are remembered with a marker that reads, "You AreNot Forgotten."


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