Memorial Day is a time of reflection, a time to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to America. Walk through just about any cemetery and it’s easy to come across headstones that pay homage to this country’s fallen veterans.
Sometimes, though, those who have valiantly served this country as part of the military rest under headstones that bear no mention of their heroic exploits, and there are even instances were there are no headstones at all to mark graves of veterans.
For those who want that military recognition for their loved ones and might not have the financial resources to make it a reality, there is an option in every Minnesota county: Contact a county veterans services officer.
In Chisago County, that man is Al Budde. In Isanti County, Jim Rostberg is the county veterans services director.
Just last week, Rostberg received a call from a man who told him his father died a few years ago, and the family didn’t have the money for a headstone to mark the grave in a private cemetery.
“It’s getting close to Memorial Day weekend, and that’s when people start thinking about these things,” Rostberg said.
Rostberg assured the man his office would be able to help him get his father the recognition he deserved.
He told the man all he needed was father’s military discharge papers, and if the man wasn’t able to find them, the veterans services office would likely be able to track them down.
“It breaks my heart when the family would like to provide a headstone and they can’t afford it for a military veteran,” Rostberg said.
When filling out a form for a headstone with the veterans services office, Rostberg noted, a family has an array of options to choose from to honor their deceased relative.
The relative’s full name can go on the headstone, along with the month, day and year of their birth, military rank and any awards received. A relatively new option to honor a veteran is a medallion that can be affixed to a headstone.
“This is just another way for a veteran to be recognized,” Rostberg said of the medallion.
In addition to providing veterans who are laid to rest in private cemeteries headstones, Rostberg said all repairs on those headstones are covered forever, even if there’s no next of kin left in the area to request a repair.
If someone sees a veteran’s headstone that’s damaged, all it takes is a call to a veterans services office to get the headstone fixed.
To contact Jim Rostberg about veterans services related issues, call 763-689-3591 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Chisago County, call Al Budde at 651-213-5680 or email email@example.com.