Monday, October 15, 2018

Sharing this story from the Lorain MorningJournal - "Lorain County veterans are taken care of in death"

Lorain County veterans are taken care of in death

"Lorain County commissioners, during their Oct. 10 meeting, kicked in $2,000 for a pair of funerals.

Each board of county commissioners in the state is required by law to pay up to $1,000 toward the funeral expenses of indigent veterans of the U.S. military.

This may seem odd for a government entity, but Commissioner Ted Kalo said they are happy to do it.

“It doesn’t bother us in the least,” Kalo said. “It’s the least we can do, as government, to make sure they have a proper burial.

"That’s not even an arguable position. It’s the right thing to do.”

Mary Misencik Andras, funeral director and owner of Andras Crematory and Funeral Home, 3900 Broadway in Lorain, said the process of getting a veteran’s funeral paid for begins when she gets the call notifying her about the death, as many who are indigent have not made prior arrangements for their funeral.

“Usually, when they’re dying, they’re in a facility, so there’s not a whole lot of planning,” Misencik Andras said.

It is the responsibility of the funeral home to fill out an application and prove that the deceased is an honorably discharged veteran and they are indigent.

“Typically, their only means of income is Social Security or disability," Misencik Andras said. "So, if that’s their only income, then they really are indigent.

“Generally, they know if someone is a veteran or not, or you go through the county recorder’s office and check if they filed their discharge papers.”

Misencik Andras said because the county only will reimburse the funeral homes for $1,000, most indigent veterans are cremated and then interred at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Seville, which is federally-owned.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website said some veteran benefits include a grave site in any of the 136 national cemeteries with available space, as well as “opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a government headstone or marker, a burial flag and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family.”

State law, though, does not specify where the burial must be made, except to say that it must not be a “used exclusively for the burial of paupers and criminals.”

The funeral homes then send the application to the Lorain County Veterans Service Commission, which then processes the application and documents.

Martha Garreau, administrative assistant for the Veterans Service Commission, said the agency processed 13 applications this year, 13 in 2017, 12 in 2016, 16 in 2015 and 10 in 2014.
“As we’re going, each year, it becomes more and more,” Garreau said.

From there, the applications are given to the county administration where they are further processed and presented to county commissioners for a vote.

Lorain County Budget Director Lisa Hobart said she time stamps the application then gives it to Theresa Upton, the county clerk, who places it on the commissioners’ agenda for a vote.

Misencik Andras said the applications are almost never denied.

The county then reimburses the funeral home, a process that usually takes about a month, she said.

“You never want someone that’s served our country, who put their life on the line for our freedoms, to not have a proper burial,” Kalo said. “It’s really important for our society that we make sure those men and women are taken care of for a final resting place.”

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