Occasionally, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System patients who pass away have no family members to make subsequent arrangements.
They do have some friends, though.
“We believe that veterans deserve a dignified funeral, all of them,” Stephanie Easter said.
Easter is a licensed funeral director with Pittsburgh Cremation and Funeral Care in Peters Township, which in turn is part of the provider network of Veterans Funeral Care, based in Clearwater, Fla.
“We’re a group of funeral homes that like to take care of veterans,” she said. “We make sure that the veterans get all of the benefits they deserve.”
Recently, the VA system notified Pittsburgh Cremation and Funeral Care of the death of a U.S. Air Force veteran named Andre Hill Bey. Because no one stepped forward to claim him, the funeral home took care of arranging services and his burial with full military honors at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Cecil Township.
On Jan. 6, members of the Patriot Guard Riders, a group that honors veterans and first responders at funerals, served as pallbearers for Bey. At the cemetery, they joined the Honor Guard of Edwin Scott Linton American Legion Post 175 in Washington to take part in the ceremony, and two active Air Force members folded an American flag at his casket.
The flag was presented in Bey’s name to funeral director Sarah Barczak, who also received a memorial plaque on his behalf from Jim Shaw, senior ride captain for Region 12 of the Patriot Guard Riders – Pennsylvania.
Inscribed on the plaque is acknowledgement of Bey as a True American Hero, along with the Patriot Guard Riders’ motto: “Standing for those who stood for us.”