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thedrifter
02-19-04, 07:33 AM
Veterans community pays its last respects to 8 homeless peers

By Michael Stetz
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

February 17, 2004

Family? They had family.

Survivors of Pearl Harbor were present to help honor the men.

Retired members of the 82nd Airborne were there, as well, serving as the honor guard. Vietnam War veterans were pallbearers.

So, yes, there was much family gathered yesterday when eight homeless men were given full military honors at a funeral service at Glenn Abbey Memorial Park and Mortuary in Bonita.

"We're related in our service," said David Brown, who edits the Veterans Journal. The publication and local veterans organizations assist in this program to make certain homeless veterans get their due for serving their country.

Without it, the men would have likely received little, if any, recognition for their military duty.

Not much was known about these eight men. Their ages ranged from 54 to 78.

Two of the men were born in Pennsylvania and one was born in California. For the rest of the men, there were just question marks on the form instead of places of birth.

The story could have been even more heartbreaking if not for this program that gives homeless veterans dignified services and funerals.

"I still get touched," said Al Pavich, president of the Vietnam Veterans of San Diego, who attends many of these memorials. "I think we all fear dying alone."

Those being honored yesterday were: Robert Rayan, 74; Lawrence Miljas, 66; Stanley Seven, 78; Albert Barris, 54; Wayne Foster, 65; Larry Lofquist, 56; Richard Goodstein, 70; and Michael Simonies, age unknown.

Such services normally are held on the fourth Saturday of the month at the Veterans Memorial Center and Museum in Balboa Park.

But the number of local homeless veterans dying of late has increased, so this special service was organized. It's not known why the numbers have risen.

The veterans honored yesterday will be buried at Riverside National Cemetery. The national cemetery in San Diego, Rosecrans National Cemetery, is nearly full and cannot accept casket burials.

The Homeless Veterans Burial Program has been in place locally for several years now. More than 80 homeless veterans have been laid to rest through the program. Other cities have it, as well.

It is funded by Dignity Memorial, a network of funeral and cemetery providers, including Glenn Abbey.

Pavich feels the loss of these men personally. His organization struggles to give homeless veterans new life. It offers such services as treatment, job training and counseling.

It's estimated that 270,000 veterans in the United States are homeless. A number of them face problems related to their service.

Pavich's treatment center, which has 87 beds, has been full lately. Expansion is in the works, but it will take months.

"It's the hardest thing," he said, "looking a veteran in the eye and saying, 'Sorry, there's no room.' "



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Michael Stetz: (619) 542-4570; michael.stetz@uniontrib.com


http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/military/images/040217homeless.jpg

PEGGY PEATTIE / Union-Tribune
One of the eight caskets for homeless veterans is carried from the Little Chapel of Roses at Glenn Abbey Memorial Park and Mortuary in Bonita. The eight veterans will be buried at Riverside National Cemetary. Family? They had family. Survivors of Pearl Harbor were present to help honor the men.

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/military/20040217-9999-1m17funeral.html


Sempers,

Roger
:marine: