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Innovative Health Care Magazine

VETERANS Proudly A GREAT Showing the Flag in Holly LAKES NATIONAL TREASURE 38 Innovative Health - Summer 2016 /// BY RANEY RUSSELL-MCAULEY I I never really thought about my parents dying. They were in their early fifties and it seemed like they had many years still ahead of them. So I chose to remain blissfully unconcerned. Then, unexpectedly, my dad was dead at 54 years old. Unfortunately, he had no pre-planning or preparations in place. I was only armed with two pieces of information: My dad wished to be cremated; and he was a Navy Veteran. In my grief, I was clueless as to how to proceed. about my father. Following the service my dad received full military honors, and this was truly a sight to behold. If you have never had the honor of at-tending a military service, I can describe it as a precisely coordinated, beautiful, demonstration for fallen comrades. Full military honors for veterans include a 21-gun salute, the playing of Taps, and an American Flag presented to the fam-ily. The Director of Great Lakes National Cemetery, Roy Luera, states that there are about 30 veterans’ organizations each of whom volunteer one day a month at the cemetery to perform these honors. These organizations include the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) posts, the American Legion, and Marine Corps League. We were fortunate enough to have an actual bugler play “Taps,” but this is not always an option as there are few buglers available. Most military services will provide an electronic recording of this haunting melancholy bugle call. The playing of “Taps” is undoubtedly the best part of a military funeral. It is played by the military at burial and memorial services, to accompany the lowering of the flag, and to signal the “lights out” command at day’s end. My first stop was the Genesee County Department of Veterans Services on Beach Street, in Flint. I spoke to a representative there and she was very helpful. She went over all of the services my dad was eligible for as a Navy veteran, and put me in direct contact with the Great Lakes National Cemetery, who explained that all the forms I needed were located on their website. I submitted an eligibility worksheet and my father’s DD214 to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office and called them for more information. After they reviewed my paperwork, it was just a matter for me to schedule Dad’s service. I chose a day a few weeks out so I had time to let our loved ones know of the service. My dad passed away in April, 2012 and his service was held on a sunny Wednesday in May. The cemetery has two shelters in which funeral services are held. They are wonderful open-air venues with bench seating. A clergy member may conduct the service and offer a eulogy; or friends and families can simply speak kind words about the deceased loved one. Our ceremony was brief, with my maternal grandparents saying a prayer and some kind words Luera encourages veterans’ spouses to be buried at Great Lakes, also. He confirms that this service is most underutilized at his cemetery. “Burial in a national cemetery is open to all members of the armed forces who have met a minimum active duty service requirement, and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable,” he said. “A veteran’s spouse, widow or widower, minor dependent children, and under certain conditions, unmarried adult children with disabilities may also be eligible for burial. Eligible spouses and children may be buried even if they predecease the veteran.” Spouses of veterans are entitled to burial at any national cemetery, but do not receive military honors. After the service, after the last prayer had been spoken and the last bugle note played, it was just me with my dad again. I looked around at all the beauty surrounding us, and thought about his life and our times together. I felt so proud of his service to our country and proud of myself too, for finding this perfect place for him to rest. Great Lakes National Cemetery 4200 Belford Road Holly, MI 48442 Office Hours: Mon.-Fri. 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed federal holidays. Visitation Hours: Sunrise to Sunset. 248.328.0386 www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/ greatlakes.asp


Innovative Health Care Magazine
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