Veterans interment fund receives $3,000 donation
By LYNETTE SOWELL
A Central Texas nonprofit group that provides assistance to families of deceased veterans received a big boost on Friday for its veterans’ interment fund.
Eddie Bell Sr., president of the Korean War Veterans Association for the state of Texas, received a $3,000 check from Operation Stand Down Central Texas at the group’s headquarters in Copperas Cove.
The funds were part of the proceeds from a June 17 and 18 live musical show held at the Temple Cultural Activities Center. The cast and crew of the “All Hands On Deck” show came from Branson, Mo. and held performances on Father’s Day weekend. The event served as a fundraiser for Operation Stand Down Central Texas, with OSDCT also promising to share the proceeds with the KWVA’s Veterans Interment Fund.
“When we promise something, we follow through,” said Trudy Bolton with OSDCT upon presenting the check to Bell.
Bolton said that OSDCT would love to bring the show back to Central Texas, specifically to hold performances in Copperas Cove. Those plans are in the works; however, dates haven’t been set and that will depend on the cast and crew’s availability to return to Texas for more performances.
Where the Veterans’ Interment Fund is concerned, Bell said that in 2017 alone, the fund has helped pay for the expenses for five local veterans’ funerals. Burying a former veteran whose family has no funds to pay for a funeral is a process that involves the coordination between several groups, along with the veteran’s family.
“When we get a call for assistance, we first have to determine that there is indeed a legitimate financial need, that the family doesn’t have the funds for their loved one’s burial,” Bell said. This verification is done with the help of the local funeral home—in this case, Scott’s Funeral Home, which has the means to determine if a family doesn’t have the assets or funding. A veteran’s military service is also verified. Bell gave Scott’s kudos for being the only funeral home locally that will work with him as far as services paid for with the help of the interment fund.
Next, paperwork is also submitted to the VA to see how much the VA will pay for a funeral. That amount can vary, Bell said, which can be as little as $300 to as much as $750.
“That’s about it,” Bell said of the amount the government contributes toward burying a veteran. The space at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen does not cost a veteran’s family. However, in addition to preparing a body for burial, there’s also the expense of transporting the veteran’s body to the funeral home as well, something that Bell said the KWVA’s interment fund helps cover.
He named one case of a local veteran who passed away months ago, and they are still working on verifying the funds that the VA will pay, with the delay being due to a clerical error. Bell said this veteran’s spouse and child were living out of a car at the time of her husband’s death.
The funds provided by the KWVA don’t provide a high-dollar funeral and will typically help cover cremation. The least expensive funeral cost, to date, Bell said has been $2,600, of which the KWVA’s veteran interment fund helped cover the remainder of the bill.
“It comes down to respect,” Bell said. “That’s what we’re trying to do. We want to show a veteran respect and help families lay their loved one to rest.”
Bell said all funds received by the KWVA for the interment fund are earmarked for veteran burial expenses and checks are issued to the funeral home by the KWVA’s treasurer, Maureen Jouett.