What the Veterans Administration Does Spectacularly

With all the news about the screw ups for our Veterans, this must just be said. The care and service provided to burying our Veterans is so well done, it breaks and sooths your heart in the same moment. The following is a letter I wrote to say thank you. I wanted to share it here because you’ve read my writings when I criticize, I mourn and now give thanks:

To: James C. Horton, Director, NMCP

Dear Mr. Horton,

Beginning in September when my brother, Sean Edward Duggan, passed away, and only now just concluding this past weekend in a Memorial Service, I have come to have such an appreciation for how the Veterans Administration handles the details of burying a Veteran. Every contact, from reaching out to provide my brother’s DD214 to the National Cemetery Administration to going forward with my brother’s wishes to be buried at the National Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) was greeted with helpful men at the other end of the phone line or email. I say this with a smile “Once you got through the busy signals…”

My situation was perhaps no different than the thousands dealt with every day, but for me, I received such amazing service, I simply had to write to say thank you. I live in Washington state; my brother passed away in the state of Nevada; and his expressed wish was to be buried at your cemetery in Hawaii. All the arrangements were done by phone, email, and sometimes by mail. Standing out, head and shoulders above all who gave unstintingly of their time, care and attention was a member of your staff, Jonathan “Diesel” Bussey.

Diesel was simply amazing. His qualities of courtesy, unfailing patience, gentleness, respect, and honor to my brother’s remains and to his family far off in another state and one of us serving in a foreign country gave us such peace of mind at a time when it could have been fraught with difficulties. I think Diesel had to answer many of the same questions over and over again and he always responded as though it were the first time I had asked. He walked me through every phase of the operation – how to have Sean’s cremated remains transported, what I would need to do for that, how he would be on the lookout for Sean, what would happen upon Diesel receiving Sean’s ashes. He either called or emailed me when Sean did indeed arrive in Hawaii.

We could not be there for Sean’s interment, but Diesel told me the day and time, and throughout the country, his friends and family stopped what they were doing for a moment, an hour, maybe a day to remember Sean and wish him everlasting peace. It was Diesel who made that peace of mind possible. I truly hope if he passes through Seattle he will allow me to buy him a cup of coffee or his favorite beer. I would like to thank Diesel in person for the painstaking care and understanding he granted unstintingly to me and my family.

Thank you for all that you, your staff, cemetery and agency do for our veterans when they are finally ready to rest. Thank you.

Director Horton responded in less than five minutes:

Aloha “Ms. Huntmode,”

We are honored to have your brother with us here at Punchbowl and are sincerely appreciative of his service to our great nation.

Our staff is comprised of mostly veterans who view what we do at a much higher level than a job or career, it truly is a mission of respect and gratitude for those who’ve served and Diesel, as you’ve seen firsthand, is the epitome of what we strive for in taking care of the veterans and their families.

Thank you for taking time out of your day to share your experience and I hope you will one day be able to visit your brother’s final resting place in this sacred site.

If there is ever anything we can do to be of assistance, please do not hesitate to call (and call again if you get those busy signals…we’ll work on that issue!)-

Mahalo,

Jim

———–

Should you ever have to deal with this, know you and your veteran will be well taken care of, with respect and honor as befits a veteran.

12 thoughts on “What the Veterans Administration Does Spectacularly

  1. I agree. The care given to deceased veterans is beyond reproach. I personally know the minister who is in charge of being there when deceased warriors are brought home through the facility at Dover, DE. Not only the soldier but family there meeting their loved one is given all honor, respect, and care. In germany, the Quarter Master corps ensures each soldier is in a state of honored perfection, regardless of rank – shoes perfectly shined, buttons polished, uniform creased and wrinkle free, even under the worst of circumstances. The honor guard that carries the casket from the plane to further transport are aware of the very high honor they have to carry their comrade one last time. Care is given to the family. Within 15 minutes of the official report of death, a special team notifies the family, in person, and begins the sad and grueling job of comfort, care, transport to Dover and back home. The care of the family continues. This minister has been to hundreds of ballgames, plays, recitals….he has no wife or children as he considers these people his new family and their care his priority after being at Dover. I only wish more care were given to the living. I know one man who waited 9 months for treatment of his PTSD. If not for a nearby veteran and his service dog (given by a private civilian organisation), we would have lost that veteran who served 4 tours in Afghanistan and Iran. I am thankful to the man who showed you such kindness and Sean such honor. He is a hero.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dearest Kanzen, thank you for writing with such depth of the last journey from Germany to Dover to home. There is a short story, turned into a film, called “Taking Chance Home.” As I recall about 10 single space pages – I first heard it read aloud on the car radio, had to pull over. I found it on the internet, printed it and saved to read aloud with Sean and his good friend, Brad. We swapped off reading – tears choking our voices, hearts bursting with emotion – it is simply wonderful. It can be read here:

      http://www.blackfive.net/main/2004/04/taking_chance.html

      As you write, we must do better by our living.

      Like

  2. It’s heartwarming to read your experience regarding the arrangements for your brother’s burial and service were caring and professional. This is exactly what you needed and he deserved. I love your letter of thanks. Their response was warm and without delay. As they should be. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Absolutely wonderful Letters! Both yours, and the warmly awesome reply from James C. Horton. Where do we find such people? They are America’s best~ the fine men and women of the Armed Services (Sean) and the high quality real deal respectful patriots (Jim) who give the honest loving care to our veterans in their final resting place.

    Liked by 1 person

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