Teens volunteer as pallbearers for homeless veterans

Teens volunteer as pallbearers for homeless veterans

(University of Detroit Jesuit School/Today)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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DETROIT — A group of Michigan high school students is stepping up to make sure homeless military veterans won't be buried alone.

About 50 teenagers from the University of Detroit Jesuit School signed up to be trained as pallbearers at the burial services for fallen service members who don't have anyone to mourn them, according to Today. The program is part of the school's student service team, and it's grown so popular that many more students have signed up to take part in the next training session in November.

"I know that these people had loved ones and, whether or not these loved ones could be there to say goodbye, it does not change the fact that everyone deserves a proper burial," 17-year-old senior Nick Benedetto told Today. "During the funerals, while listening to the eulogies, I heard a particular statement that I feel was very important: 'While you didn't know him by name or sight, we are all here today to recognize his service to our country.'"

The school teamed up with several funeral homes in the area that plan and execute proper burials for abandoned veterans. The bodies of the veterans are turned over to the funeral homes after the county medical examiner's office has made unsuccessful attempts to contact loved ones to claim the bodies for 90 days, Today reports.


I know that these people had loved ones and, whether or not these loved ones could be there to say goodbye, it does not change the fact that everyone deserves a proper burial.

–Nick Benedetto


The Dignity Memorial Network's Homeless Veterans Program provides the caskets. The students, said funeral home director John Desmond, are so important because without them, there would be no one to bear those fallen soldiers.

"The students' service is quite simply valuable to our firm because that is what we do — we serve our community by caring for and honoring the dead, regardless of financial circumstances," Desmond said.

Faculty member Todd Wilson, who leads the school's service team, said he's proud of how his students have stepped up to make the program successful.

"To watch them develop this program and to give so generously of their time and talent is impressive," he said. "The students have come to understand that it is not our place to judge someone and their circumstances in life, but rather to celebrate and respect the dignity of that person's life."

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Jessica Ivins

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