Photo & Flowers by Buckin' Blooms of Clovis
In late 2021, the board received a cold call on a veteran who had passed away without any family here in Fresno.
Our board member (Cris Thraikill) inquired with the Fresno County Coroner and worked on finding out the facts and a resolution. It was discovered that his only relative was a brother-in-law that wanted nothing to do with him. In working with the Fresno coroner, it was assumed the remains would be sent to Santa Nella, (San Joaquin National Cemetery) and that there would not be any issues and Cris requested that they contact him as to when the event would happen. After four months of back-and-forth conversations, they vaguely informed Cris that Santa Nella rejected his request without explanation as a “third party” and non-relative.
It was then discovered that the veteran had received an OTH (other than honorable) discharge, and that was the reason for his denial of any military cemetery. Unfortunately, this was simply an “off the record" conversation, and the DD-214 would be needed to try and make other arrangements and overturn the OTH. It took over eight months to find a resolution to the DD-214 alone. If the remains were not to be claimed, they would be disposed of off the coast of Marin County.
Skipping forward, we finally received only his DD-214 by asking for multiple congressional assistance and got it through Congresswoman Connie Conway. It was attempted to reverse the OTH discharge, which is commonly done, but unfortunately, with the veteran being deceased, there is no access to his medical records.
This all leads to the most recent situation. The Fresno County Coroner’s Office would release the cremations for a fee of $1,658.47 for the friends to apply for proper burial and honors. The board member then approached the CVV Board for help. This was a big bill for our organization, but we all agreed that a Veteran is a Veteran. At the end of the day, we needed to find a way to resolve this situation and help him be laid to rest. The board brainstormed ways that we could ask the community to help us with this. While the conversations were had, the same board member wrote to seven City Council members asking for them to assist.
On April 4, 2023, Fresno City Councilmember Mike Karbassi responded, and we are pleased to share with our supporters that the county will be waiving the fees. After a year and a half process, this veteran will get laid to rest in a dignified way. We owe a special thank you to Cris Thrailkill, CVV Board Member, for taking the time to see this through and being an example of what Central Valley Veterans strives for in our mission to honor any United States Veteran with support and guidance to improve the quality of life, in this case to his final resting place.
Central Valley Veterans
Central Valley Veterans is an all-volunteer, non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation. “To honor any United States Veteran with support and guidance to improve the quality of their life.”