Veterans Are Honored Here
Just like in the days of ‘ol, our country still demonstrates the special love we all have for our veterans. In the past and in today’s time, veterans can be buried in a VA National Cemetery at no cost to the family if they are eligible. Military men and women alike have served with unselfish, exemplary fortitude, precision, and a code of ethics.
SPECIAL MONTHLY COMPENSATION (SMC): SMC is an additional tax-free benefit that can be paid to Veterans, as well as, their surviving spouses and parents. For veterans, SMC is a higher rate of compensation paid due to special circumstances such as the need for aid and attendance by another person or due to a specific disability such as the loss of use of one hand or leg. A veteran who is determined by the VA to be in need of the regular aid and attendance of another person or a veteran who is permanently housebound may be entitled to additional payments.
For detailed 2021 special compensation rate information visit: www.va.gov/disability/compensation-rates/special-monthly-compensation-rates/
PLOT ALLOWANCE: The VA will pay a plot allowance of up to $762.00 and a headstone installation allowance of $400.00 when a Veteran is buried in a private cemetery (not under U.S. government jurisdiction) if: The veteran was discharged from active duty because of disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty. The veteran was receiving compensation or pension or would have been if the veteran was not receiving military retiree pay. The veteran died in a VA facility. Reimbursement can be obtained after the initial payment has been made to the cemetery and appropriate paperwork submitted to VA. For more information about burial and memorial benefits, please call (202)632-8035 or visit www.cem.va.gov/.
IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS: In order to expedite benefit delivery, Veterans seeking a VA benefit for the first time, must submit a copy of their service discharge form (DD214,-DD215 or for World War II Veterans a WD form) which documents service dates and type of discharge, or provides full name, military service number, branch and dates of service. The following documents will be needed for claims processing related to a Veteran’s death: Veteran’s marriage certificate for claims of a surviving spouse or children; Veteran’s death certificate if the Veteran did not die in a VA health facility; children’s birth certificates or adoption papers to determine children benefits, or Veteran’s birth certificate to determine parents benefits.
I have five men in my family who served in the Military, two of the men are pictured here. My father entered the U.S. Army in 1945 served and was Honorably Discharged in 1946. My brother entered the U.S. Navy in 1972 served in what was considered a war zone and was Honorably Discharged in 1974. He maintained an Inactive Reserve status until 1978.
It takes a special love combined with courage and integrity to graciously accept the detailed assignment provided by the government and not evade or go awol. In my family, dedication, determination, commitment, and focus are some of the attributes my father and brother demonstrated before, during, and after their Honorable Discharge.
Listen to their personal testimonies below.
The name is Henry Griffin. I was drafted into the United States Army in 1945, and our first stop after leaving home was Camp Shelby, Mississippi. We stayed there overnight, over maybe two nights, and from there we went to Fort Benning Georgia, which was the separation center. And when I got there, actually I wouldn’t want to be as long as I was there, but I caught the mumps. And catching the mumps they wouldn’t send you out to basic training right away. So I had a chance to lay around the mess halls and do what I wanted to do. And when that time was up they sent me to Fort McClellan, Alabama. I went there to take my basic training. Germany had surrendered and the Japanese were on the brink. So it has been, it was after I was in a few, after taking my basic training a couple of weeks, about a week or so, they surrendered. So when I finished my basic training we came home, and I came home again on a furlough. And after the furlough was over I went to Camp Pickett, Virginia. And from Camp Pickett, Virginia we went to New York. New York, New York. And from there we boarded the ship and went to– our first stop after that was in France. The harbor of France. And we stayed there, I don’t know, maybe a couple of days. And from there we went to Bamberg, Germany. And they get into Germany, that’s where we were more or less like an occupation troop, in Germany. And we stayed there doing that type of work, whatever you want to call it, security for it. Well, anyway, after that the points come down, let us know if you had so many points you could get out. And like I said, I didn’t know I had that many points, but I had enough to get out, and I accepted the discharge which was an honorable discharge. And I was discharged and came home, came back home to Mississippi, Jackson Mississippi. And from there to Chicago. And then I finally got into the church here in Chicago. Find me a little wife there and got married to her. We’ve got five children, one boy and four girls. And this is one of my girls here, Patricia. And that’s about it, I guess.
After high school graduation, I volunteered to serve my country in the United States Navy. In August of 1972, I was stationed on the USS Passumpsic (AO-107) sailing and serving in the Gulf of Tonkin which is the Northwestern portion of the South China Sea. I was a Boatswain’s mate and part of the supply chain, providing food, troops, ammunition, and most of all, various types of fuel to assist our efforts in the Vietnam War. I have been on rescue missions in the DaNang Harbor, as well as assisted in the rescue and retrieval of a B-52 Bomber crew that was shot down. I served my second duty station on the USS Benjamin Stoddert (DDG 22). It was on this guided-missile destroyer that I began my training as a drug counselor. Due to the proliferation of cheap and powerful Opium, too many good people became addicted. I was selected to assist enlisted naval personnel in kicking the addiction without any punitive damages to their careers.
Serving in the Military was a great experience for me, I bought two cars and had my clothes, shoes, and hats tailor-made. Most of all, I got to travel and visit parts of the world, which I had only seen in books. I took a Christmas vacation with friends in Bangkok, Thailand. I visited Sapporo, Okinawa, Yokohama, Yokosuka, and Tokyo. My experience in Japan will stay with me for a lifetime. I rented houses and lived off base, in the Philippines, Hawaii, and Long Beach California. In addition, the military provided a four-year college scholarship and a no-money-down guaranteed backing of my mortgage.
Living abroad quickly matured me in ways of the world. Hence, I have learned to honor and respect other people and their cultures. After witnessing the damage, destruction, and devastation of war I have committed the last 45 years of my life to Christian Ministry trying to build and heal people rather than being exploitive or destructive. I served on Active Duty from 1972 to 1974. After which I served in a Naval Reserve Unit from 1974 to 1978.
I close by saying, it would be nice to see all abled body persons spend at least two years in service to others. The military may not be a good fit for all, but they could join the Job Corps or the Peace Corps. Working in teams, valuing life, and viewing people through the humanity lens without judgments are my results from serving others. I pray that all experience the value of volunteering to assist and serve others. God bless you and thank you for this opportunity.
Henry R. Griffin 7/16/21