Inside the Gates: Unaccompanied veterans honored by military family

For various reasons, military veterans sometimes die without family or friends to make their final arrangements or attend their funerals. They’re referred to as unaccompanied veterans.

A group at Fort Richardson on Sunday stepped in to lay to rest one of those veterans: Army Sgt. Dale Lee Milline. His family couldn’t be located after he died in November 2018.

Vice Commander of the American Legion Department of Alaska Art Bell says life can take strange turns, but people shouldn’t be alone at the ends of their lives.

"You may wind up moving away from your family, outliving your family, being estranged from your family. That doesn't mean that your time in service does not need to be recognized, at least by your brothers."

Virginia Walker, director of the Fort Richardson National Cemetery says services for unaccompanied veterans like Milline take place year-round. 

"They stand out here when it’s negative 20 degrees and when it’s a beautiful sunny 70 like here today, so we honor the veterans under all conditions.”

Depending on the day, the memorial service may have a large crowd or just a few members, but someone is always there.

“Whether they gave it in combat or whether they survived a good life and finally went up, then they still deserve to have a brother or sister with them when they go," Bell said.

If you would like to attend unaccompanied veterans services, contact Walker at 907-384-7075 or virginia.walker1@va.gov to be put on the list.

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