TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - As we remember the sacrifices made by our veterans on this Memorial Day, there's a small group of people dedicated to making sure no veteran in our country is forgotten.
The Missing in America Project has only been active in Arizona for a couple years and already they've made sure dozens of local war heroes are getting a proper burial fit for a soldier.
The Veterans' Cemetary in Sierra Vista is where hundreds ofthese forgotten soldiers have found a place to rest, brought there with pompand circumstance, interred with honor and respect.
"Only in America are you going to have homelessvets in paupers' graves. We can't have that," said Ed Torres, the Southern Arizona coordinator for the Missing in America Project.
These are veterans, whose cremains are found in the shelves of local funeral homes, mortuaries and some in paper bags. They've even found remains of a local soldier in a Campbell's soup can.
Remains that have sat there for decades with no one to claim them and no one to give them a proper burial that they deserve.
"It's sad, just wrong," said Liz Bartel, an MIAP volunteer. "A lot of them have no family anymore. They'veoutlived their family."
The top leader at the Fort Huachuca Military Installation Major General Robert Paul Ashley says this is a cause that's close to his heart.
"When you say there's no family, they are part oflarger family: fellow soldiers, fellow marines, airmen, sailors, coastguardsmen. That is a family that endures," Gen. Ashley said.
"We are your family. We will remember you died foryour country and you were willing to give your life for your country," Bartel said.
As of today, there have been nine memorial services for forgottenveterans in Arizona.
Three spouses and 120 veterans have been buried with honors.
The group is getting ready for another mass intermentthat will take place in October. There have been 18 cremains of forgotten heroes found sofar. A fundraiser is set to take place on Saturday, June 1 to raise money for thismass interment at the American Legion Riders Morgan McDermott Post 7 at 330 W Franklin St, Tucson,Arizona 85701-8208.
The Missing In America Project, Veterans Recovery Programinvites you to participate in a Fund Raising Event that will help to raisefunds for upcoming M.I.A.P. Mission in October of 2013
Total funds raised will go to a local Missing In America Project Southern AZteam to help with the funeral expenses. Donations are greatly appreciated.
We will have great food, cold drinks, music, vendors, 50/50 and raffle tickets.See flyer for details.
You will be asked for a $5 donation at the gate. Everyone is welcome.
Contact Blaze at (520) 940-1260 if you have questions.