New program aims to honor ‘unaccompanied’ veterans at the end of life

Local News

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — A new program aims to help veterans who are either homeless or without family, at the end of their life. Several groups are working together to make sure all veterans, regardless of their circumstances, receive a proper goodbye.

“It is an honor for the community to come together and look at our veteran population and honoring them for their time served, even those that have fallen behind, so they aren’t left unaccompanied,” said Jessica McGuire, Chief Executive Officer at the Roark Sullivan Lifeway Center in Charleston.

Her group is one of the partners for the Uniforms for the Final Salute program. McGuire said last year the Roark Sullivan Lifeway Center served over 100 veterans.

McGuire said they are helping 22 veterans now. She talked to them about the program before the big announcement.

“They actually were in tears. We talked a lot about times they had served and some of the people they had served with that they would be honored to have an opportunity to just go out and make sure no soldier was unaccompanied,” she said. “For them it is meaningful.”

The goal is to bring multiple groups and donors together to honor veterans at the end of their life.

“We will be contacted and give them a uniform for whatever branch of the military they served in,” said Megan Diehl with Goodwill Industries of Kanawha Valley. “We will allow them to have a military burial.”

Beyond the uniforms, the partnerships will also help provide funeral services, a burial plot and other honors. The project was originally started in Texas but organizers say it makes sense to bring it to the Mountain State.

“The state of West Virginia has more veterans per capita than any other state in the country,” Diehl said. “We love our veterans. We love our Armed Forces. So to honor a veteran that maybe doesn’t have a next of kin or who has been experiencing homelessness there is no better way to honor them than to give them a proper burial.”

You can donate used uniforms at your local Goodwill, just let them know that your donation is for the Final Salute program. You can find out more about the program here.

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