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Veteran's widow fights to move late husband's remains to Jacksonville's National Cemetery

The Jacksonville National Cemetery opened in 2009. It's hallowed ground for veterans who have passed on.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — There are many men and women who served in the military and are buried in Jacksonville's Riverside Memorial Park.

Dennis Bush, a Navy veteran, is one of them.

"He died March of 1999," said his widow Pamela Bush-Stepp.

At the time, Jacksonville did not have a national cemetery for veterans so she decided to make Riverside Memorial his final resting place.

"We would like him moved to the national cemetery," Bush-Stepp said.

In 2009, the Jacksonville National Cemetery opened; hallowed grounds for those who served and were honorably discharged.

Bush-Stepp, now remarried, told First Coast News she has been trying to relocate her late husband's remains to Jacksonville's National Cemetery. However, it has been frustrating, disappointing and expensive. 

"I was devastated when the funeral home told me how much it would cost," she said.

Bush-Stepp explained she was given a quote of $10,000. She tried twice to get it done. 

"That is the price Riverside Memorial park quoted me," recalled Bush-Stepp. "It was right at $10,000, and I said basically '[You're] telling me this is going to cost as much as much as I paid for his funeral?' And they said 'Yes ma'am.'"

First Coast News does not know the actual cost of the move. 

The spokesperson for the funeral home said it is much less than what she was quoted, and a staffer will contact the veteran's widow to go over how much and what's next.

First Coast News also reached out to the Jacksonville National Cemetery. 

Director Al Richburg said the request is not unusual and that they have process changes like this before.  

Richburg said Bush-Stepp needs to call his office with her deceased husband's DD214 (military discharge papers), and his office will set a case and begin the process.

However, he said Bush-Stepp will have to hire the funeral home or a vault company to remove his remains, and he estimated the cost to be about $1,500.

First Coast News told her and at the writing of this story, Bush-Stepp had already provided what is needed to the National Cemetery. She now is awaiting a call from Riverside Memorial Park to finalize the cost to have her husband's remains removed.

"If it is $1,500 I can handle that," she said. 

As she approaches Memorial Day 2021, she is feeling grateful because she sees success on the horizon.

"Thank you so much, you have just lifted my heart today," she said.

It won't likely be in time for this Memorial Day, but it will make next year's even more memorable.

"The red, white and blue runs through our household," Bush-Stepp said. "We are proud of those who served."


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