Local News

Group works to honor state's forgotten veterans

MEDICAL LAKE, Wash. - When those who fight for our freedom die, the United States military insures they are laid to rest with honors. Sometimes it doesn't happen however, but there's a new group in the working to fix that.

Right now in Washington state there are thousands of military members that have died and weren't given honors, either from lack of paper work or the simple fact that their family members didn't know.

"Not every family member knows that their loved one was a veteran," Sergeant Ben Ashworth with the Washington National Guard said. "We don't receive requests for every veteran who passes away and our mission is to make sure that we provide honors for every eligible veteran."

Paying honor to forgotten veterans

Thus the Veterans Memorial Tribute Program was born. The program started last year, and is there to insure that all veterans across the state are given the honors they earned.

"It's our goal to ensure that no veteran goes without receiving honors," Sergeant Ben Ashworth with the Washington National Guard said.

This month alone the program will honor more than 1,100 veterans across 19 counties in our state. In Spokane County, 50 will be honored at the Veterans Cemetery later in July.

Twelve years ago, Congress made it a statutory benefit for military members to receive honors free of cost to the families left behind.

"I think military honors is very important for the families of the service members; it can be a source of great pride for them and it allows family members who may not know anything about their service to pay that respect and show that appreciation for them," Ashworth said.

The honors, as it turns out, isn't just for those that have died.

"Being in the honor guard is the greatest honor I've ever received or been able to participate in. I couldn't think of a more fulfilling job," Ashworth said.