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Homeless Vet Given Hero's Funeral

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  • Homeless Vet Given Hero's Funeral

    Homeless Vet Given Hero's Funeral

    Published : Wednesday, 23 Sep 2009, 5:05 PM CDT

    James Rose
    Adapted for Web by Tracy DeLatte

    HALTOM CITY, Texas - A former soldier who for years has lived on the streets of Haltom City was laid to rest Wednesday at DFW National Cemetery.

    But William Spence’s funeral was not organized by family. Instead, strangers at the Dignity Memorial Funeral Home Company gave him a respectful goodbye to make sure his efforts for his country are not forgotten.

    Since 2003, the group has funded the funeral and burial services for 28 homeless veterans in North Texas.

    Spence, 58, lived and died the life of a pauper in Haltom City.

    “He lived in a cardboard box behind a dumpster,” said U.S. Army Col. Billy Corn.

    Friends on the street said he served two six-month tours in Vietnam. But he was estranged from his family and had lived on the streets for years. His death three months ago from natural causes largely went unnoticed.

    Bobby Neilson remembers him as a giver.

    “He was a sharing person, and I miss him. And it was a sad day when I seen him dead over there. It hurt me,” Nielson said.

    Darryl Parker received the flag draping Spence’s coffin. He’d never seen, met or even heard of him until recently.

    "I found out about this story and I felt it my duty, my honor to come out here and honor Mr. Spence. With the fact that he didn't have any family here I just wanted to let him know that he is a brother in arms and I want to respect him as that," Parker said.

    Spence appears to have achieved in death what he could not in his life – recognition and respect for his service and sacrifice to his country.

    “I can pay back to someone who paid a price to our country. He paid for me. He stood that wall for me. Now I’m here for him and that gives me fulfillment,” Corn said.
    “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."

    "You go for a man hard enough and fast enough, he don't have time to think about how many's with him; he thinks about himself, and how he might get clear of that wrath that's about to set down on him."

  • #2
    Very touching story...I wish the vietnam vets were treated with more respect in their time.

    Comment


    • #3
      ^^^I totally agree. My dad is a veteran from Vietnam war. He doesn't talk much about it though.
      Its not the badge, gun, & uniform that makes the cop, its the PERSON behind the badge, gun, & uniform that makes the cop.

      Officer August "Augie" Tefts, Westfield MA PD EOW 12/23/05
      He was a great officer and is sadly missed

      sigpic

      Detective Paul McNulty, Springfield MA PD retired passed away 10/8/07

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      • #4
        Glad to see someone taking care of our Veterans. Vietnam vets were treated horribly and deserve better.
        The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

        Comment


        • #5
          Why the hell is a veteran living in a cardboard box behind a dumpster??

          Comment


          • #6
            Taylor its not uncommon. We are starting to get the next generation of homeless vets already................
            The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

            Comment


            • #7
              RIP William Spence...

              It sucks how vets are treated...
              sigpic

              Comment


              • #8
                Great thread. He deserved every second! God bless....
                "Abandon your animosities and make your sons Americans." - Robert E. Lee, 1865

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Taylor13 View Post
                  Why the hell is a veteran living in a cardboard box behind a dumpster??
                  25 percent of all Veterans are on some form of Welfare. Uncle Sam unfortunately doesn't treat most of his men good after he's finished using them.

                  It is a shame help came too late, but hopefully he can rest in piece.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    We have a "Stand Down" every year organized by several charities to reach out to the homeless vets.

                    By the way, Viet Nam vets have not been treated as badly as some would have you believe....nor are they more plagued by homelessness/addiction then previous wars.

                    Here are a few facts

                    97% of Vietnam Veterans were honorably discharged.


                    91% of Vietnam Veterans say they are glad they served.


                    74% say they would serve again, even knowing the outcome.


                    Vietnam veterans have a lower unemployment rate than the same non-vet age groups.


                    Vietnam veterans' personal income exceeds that of our non-veteran age group by more than 18 percent.


                    87% of Americans hold Vietnam Veterans in high esteem.


                    There is no difference in drug usage between Vietnam Veterans and non-Vietnam Veterans of the same age group (Source: Veterans Administration Study).


                    Vietnam Veterans are less likely to be in prison - only one-half of one percent of Vietnam Veterans have been jailed for crimes.


                    85% of Vietnam Veterans made successful transitions to civilian life.


                    Very good article...

                    http://www.veteranstoday.com/modules...ticle&sid=8350
                    Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.

                    sigpic

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Taylor13 View Post
                      Why the hell is a veteran living in a cardboard box behind a dumpster??
                      Right. And a card burning coward running to canada, served 8 years in the White House.
                      Most people fail because they trade what they want MOST, for what they want at the MOMENT.

                      The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, WHO can know it?
                      -Jeremiah 17:9

                      Is it any surprise that cops don't trust anyone?

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                      • #12
                        It's nice they did this stuff for him.

                        But...

                        I would rather they had used the money to try and improve the llife of a living hard luck vet.

                        M-11
                        “All men dream...... But not equally..
                        Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it is vanity;
                        but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men,
                        for they act their dreams with open eyes to make it possible.....”

                        TE Lawrence

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                        • #13
                          The treatment I spoke of was how they were treated by a portion of America when they came home. My father was spit on in the airport. On of his best friend was shot and killed while in uniform still holding his bags from the return trip. I have many friends that served in Vietnam that have similar stories. VA never bothered woth effective treatment for PTSD. They denied agent orange affected the people who lived ate and breathed it. They have just started recognizing around 40 years later.

                          On the other hand during the first Gulf war I was treated like a hero on my return. That wasn't much especially when compared to Vietnam and the current war.

                          Many vets still have to fight for treatment for service related injuries.

                          My Dad and my friends that served are all very succesful. But they were successful before and deal with whatever issues they have from Vietnam.

                          Originally posted by willowdared View Post
                          By the way, Viet Nam vets have not been treated as badly as some would have you believe....nor are they more plagued by homelessness/addiction then previous wars.

                          http://www.veteranstoday.com/modules...ticle&sid=8350
                          The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Taylor13 View Post
                            Why the hell is a veteran living in a cardboard box behind a dumpster??
                            Beyond veterans, why is anybody? Homeless advocates will tell us it's "the failure of the government to take care of people". I disagree.

                            I worked Skid Row in Los Angeles, and I dealt with homeless people in Los Angeles for 30 years. Most all of them, 99.9%, are homeless because they want to be. Shelters, training, and "transition" programs have rules: No alcohol, no dope, no smoking inside the facility. The same rules present back where there family lives. Many are metally ill, but not mentally ill enough to be a danger to themselves or others, or gravely disabled.

                            Taylor, I asked several people over the years, "Can I take you somewhere, the V.A.? A Shelter? Hey, they have this program...three hots and a cot, you want to go?" And they would turn me down, with a polite, "No thanks!" I would ask, can I help track down and call you family. Again, the answer was "No." I succeeded only twice in returning two homeless people where they were supposed to be, and their mental illness prevented them from making the connections, home.

                            Sadly, the homeless are used politically. They are very much a hot news topic which points out the failure of presidential administrations...but only when people like Reagan, Bush 44, and GWB are in the office. When Carter or Bill Clinton was in office, there wasn't much coverage...and I swear that their numbers did not diminish. Now that BHO is in office, I'm sure that homelessness, as a topic for measuring the effect of government, will not be talked about...or perhaps just blamed on previous GOP administrations.

                            Take any one of our closed and empty military facilities, open it as a place where the homeless could have a place to eat, sleep, get their needs met and they would avoid it like the plague. And, at the same time, their defenders would accuse the program designers of try to "warehouse the homeless".
                            "You're never fully dressed without a smile."

                            Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

                            Three things I know for sure: (1) No bad deed goes unrewarded, (2) No good deed goes unpunished, and (3) It is entirely possible to push the most devoted, loyal and caring person beyond the point where they no longer give a 5h!t.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Monkeybomb View Post
                              The treatment I spoke of was how they were treated by a portion of America when they came home. My father was spit on in the airport. On of his best friend was shot and killed while in uniform still holding his bags from the return trip. I have many friends that served in Vietnam that have similar stories. VA never bothered woth effective treatment for PTSD. They denied agent orange affected the people who lived ate and breathed it. They have just started recognizing around 40 years later.

                              On the other hand during the first Gulf war I was treated like a hero on my return. That wasn't much especially when compared to Vietnam and the current war.

                              Many vets still have to fight for treatment for service related injuries.

                              My Dad and my friends that served are all very succesful. But they were successful before and deal with whatever issues they have from Vietnam.
                              I agree that the VA has been slow to address PTSD and other health problems related to "exposure"....not just Agent Orange, but Gulf I vets exposure to pollutants from the Kuwait oil field fires.

                              I grew up during Viet Nam, and had several relatives serve, not to mention all of their friends. I have not heard a single "first hand" story of anyone being harassed, yelled at, or spit on when they came home....but quite a few about offers of coffee or a ride home.

                              Blue stars were displayed proudly in front windows....and many of us wore POW bracelets.

                              I'd be curious to know the circumstances surrounding the murder of your father's friend?
                              Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.

                              sigpic

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