Veterans, community members gather for funeral of homeless veteran
WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - Veterans and community members came together Friday morning to give one final salute to a Wichita Falls veteran who passed away recently.
US Army Private First Class Casey McCain was a homeless veteran, something that veteran organizations are saying is an issue in Wichita County that needs to be fixed.
Joel Jimenez, Commander of Chapter 41, DAV in Wichita Falls, said he remembers a time when veterans would get taken care of, making sure they had a place in society after everything they did to protect this country. He isn’t sure why the world changed in that aspect, but he hopes they will make a change for the better with the help of the Wichita Falls community.
“The homeless and the suicide is ramped right now,” Jimenez said.
McCain was a homeless veteran who just trying to find his way back into the world.
“We kind of figured out he didn’t have any family after searching for them,” Shannon Marteney, director of social services at University Park, said. “So I think we tried at the facility to fill in as that.”
University Park took him in and helped him through his final years. They built a close bond with McCain, but said they receive veterans in a similar scenario as him all the time.
“Really often, actually it is a high percentage of people that are in the facility and probably not just ours that don’t have family or any support system necessarily,” Marteney said.
Organizations are working toward getting more veterans off the streets, but they said it’s a community effort and they need more help.
“To put an end to this homelessness, we got agencies out here as you can see, to not just show it, prove it,” Jimenez said. “Help the homeless situation.”
“The veteran community is sometimes overlooked, especially when it comes to homelessness,” Daniel Medina, Catholic Charities program manager, said. “So we are trying to change that dynamic around and to give them everything they need to be successful while they are still with us, and if they are not still with us, at least give them their respects that they are due in death.”
Jimenez wants to send a message to veterans to reach out for help if you need it.
“Don’t be afraid veterans,” Jimenez said. “That is just what veterans are afraid of, sometimes they are so ashamed. I don’t blame them, there are many of us that have been in that situation, but there is help for you out there.”
While McCain might have been homeless and alone for most of the time toward the end of his life, his death brought many together and in the end, he had people by his side giving one final salute.
“It is really emotional because you look at someone who we didn’t see have anybody in the facility, no one came to visit him, but in the end we all came together,” Marteney said.
“I am so happy that I was a part of this solemn and sad situation but from sadness you get goodness and greatness because look what we did,” Jimenez said. “We honored this army veteran Casey McCain.”
Jimenez, along with so many others, hope to continue to get homeless veterans off the streets and put a roof above their head. They said it takes more than them to make this happen - it’s a community effort to end veteran homelessness.
Copyright 2022 KAUZ. All rights reserved.