This morning as I read local and national news articles, I was saddened to read the story about a Vietnam Veteran Charles Thompson who passed away just a few months ago and has yet to be buried.
Many people are quick to point fingers and ask who, what, where and why? For me, none of those questions cross my mind. The questions running through my mind is how can I serve, how can I help and how can I honor this many who served our nation.
For months after Jamie was wounded I sat next to his hospital bed in the hospital giving thanks to God for the blessing of life we were given. Granted, Jamie was paralyzed from the chest down, he could not walk, talk, breathe on his own and unable to eat by mouth, but we were thankful for the gift of life & love. We would talk about all the support that wounded warriors receive and how people around the world rise to the occasion to help, donate and write letters to our service members.
Unfortunately, we know the world was not as accepting to our military veterans of Korea, Vietnam and even Desert storm.. Jamie and I were always thankful for the support, but we would take every opportunity to give thanks to Veterans of wars before for leading the way and paving the path of the road to be walked.
This story this morning reminded me of the many discussions Jamie and I had about support and how we can make a difference the men and women who selflessly served our nations years ago. Today I remember my husband's last wishes the most important was to care for his fellow service members and just as I do each day I will honor Jamie's wish.
By: Ariana Cohen
A new twist in the saga of a veteran whose body has lain in a Shawnee Co. morgue for the past four months - a person claiming to be a relative has called the county coroner's office.
On Monday, we received the disturbing news tip: No one ever made arrangements for 64 year-old Charles Perry Thompson, a veteran who died in a Topeka motel last August, and he still was in the morgue.
The caller, Tina Alejos, said she made quick friends with Thompson. He even gave her a necklace, which she still wears close to her heart.
"It just rips out your heart when you know someone who is sitting there touched your heart 5 months ago, and you know he is gone and nobody is stepping up," Alejos said.
Thompson had stayed at the Topeka Rescue Mission in the past.
"Charles was with us for about 16 days, and 3 different occasions, back in 2008, very short amount of time, someone who has served our country, and as I understand honorably discharged," said Barry Feaker, Executive Director of Topeka Rescue Mission.
When a veteran's family does not make funeral arrangements, the Veteran's Administration (VA) will step up to help. Any veteran with a DD Form 214 showing a honorable discharge from military service can be buried at a national cemetery with military honors.
The main concern now is getting Thompson's body to a national cemetery or a state veteran cemetery.
After contacting the VA, their representatives told us they are seeing what they what they can do to make sure Thompson is buried properly this week -- something Alejos said he deserves:
"He was loveable. He would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it," she said.
Those plans are on hold now follow the phone call from the person claiming to be Thompson's relative. The coroner said he cannot move forward with those arrangements until they receive confirmation that the family will not claim his body.
A disturbing fact from this investigation was that there are still a dozen bodies in the Shawnee Co. morgue. The coroner said he wasn't sure how many were veterans, but like Thompson, they will remain there until someone arranges to have them laid to rest
My name is Melissa Jarboe, military spouse, wounded warrior wife and war widow. Today and everyday moving forward, I will honor the sacrifice of our men and women who selflessly serve our nation.