The Missing in America Veterans Recovery Project, MIAP, along with SADA Arkansas are organizing a service to honor and lay to rest the unclaimed remains of five veterans and a spouse on Friday, March 4 at 11 a.m. The service, which is open to the public, will take place at the Fort Smith National Cemetery.
“We will meet at Edwards Funeral home in Fort Smith at 9:30 a.m. on the 4th, with kick stand up at 10:40 a.m. to escort the veterans and spouse to the National Cemetery,” shared Gina Gustafson, MIAP State Coordinator. “The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association AR 7-3 will handle the carrying and transferring of the veterans. Edwards Funeral home will transport the remains to the cemetery.”
The Missing in America Project started in 2006 in Idaho. To date, they have visited over 2,500 funeral homes, located almost 27,000 cremains, and have identified almost 6,000 veterans.
Gustafson stated that unclaimed Veterans are more common than people realize. When The Missing in America Project locates unclaimed remains, they work with the funeral home to inventory those remains. This task is executed through the combined, cooperative efforts of members of veteran organizations and other volunteer service and veteran organizations, local Funeral Homes, State Funeral Commissions, State, and National Veterans Administration Agencies, and the State and National Veterans Cemetery Administrations. Local, state, and national laws must be followed in the identification, claiming process, and proper interment of the unclaimed remains of forgotten veterans.
Gina Gustafson, and her husband, Gus, started as volunteers with MIAP nine months ago. She attributes many of the group’s accomplishments to the assistance of SADA. “We would not be able to do all of this without the support of SADA! They have stood by us since we moved here and have been a great support!,” Gustafson concluded.
That support has included the funding for transporting a pallet of 60 marble urns, which were donated to MIAP.
For more information on the Missing in America Project, or if you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please give Gina Gustafson a call at 928-404-3841.