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!)-
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.