Community members show up to honor homeless unclaimed veteran at his funeral

Community members show up to honor homeless unclaimed veteran at his funeral

SARASOTA (WWSB) - A homeless veteran, who had no family or friends to claim him was laid to rest at the Sarasota National Cemetery.

But to make sure he was paid the respect he deserved, many veterans and community members throughout the Suncoast came to his funeral even though they had never met him.

"I didn't know him at all," said Navy Veteran Martin kresinske.

Kresinske said after hearing that Vietnam Veteran James Murray was to be buried, but had no family or friends to attend the funeral he decided to show his respect.

"When people join the military, we sign a contract with the government and that never goes away and it's to our constitution. And we're a family at that point," said Kresinske.

Murray died on November 26th at the age of 73. After hearing the news and more about Murray's situation, Robert Toale & Sons Funeral Home and The Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program decided to sponsor the funeral.

"We need to honor him, we need to support him and make sure he has a dignified burial and that's what we did today," said Jason Toale, who is the Vice President of the funeral home.

And the turn out, which included members from the patriot guard riders and veterans in the area, surprised some people.

"Honesty I didn't know what to expect with this time of year, but I was overwhelmed with the turnout today," Toale said.

Kresinske said that seeing fellow veterans homeless breaks his heart and that he always provides support to them when he can, "Anything I can do, any place I can go, and if we could help one of them. But the big thing is, our government needs to take care of these people."

What happened Wednesday isn’t unusual, according to the American Legion, veterans make up 16% of the nations homeless population. The cemetery holds funerals for unclaimed veterans every Wednesday.

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