Losing a spouse is extremely difficult for anyone. But for the widows and widowers of veterans it can be extra tough, as they wade through a mountain of paperwork just to get a proper veterans funeral.
After recently going through the process, the widows of two veterans who recently passed away are now trying to help other surviving spouses navigate through the funeral process.
Maryann Krohn met her husband Charles in high school. He died in 2016, after 50 years of marriage.
"It's not just missing him. It's going to bed at night, getting up in the morning," Krohn said.
Her friend, Marie Agrifoglio also mourns the recent loss of her husband of 30 years, Bob.
"This is the chain that my husband was wearing when he passed away," she said, touching a gold chain at her neck.
But those emotions were put on hold when the women navigated through the funeral planning process for the two veterans.
"I didn't have time to grieve my husband until six months after he was gone. I was too busy fighting with bureaucracy and red tape," Krohn said.
They each wanted a funeral with military traditions to honor their husbands' service, but they found something as simple as covering a casket with the American flag could be a challenge.
"Some people have wanted to charge up to $150 for the flag, when that flag is a gift from this country to them for their service," Krohn said.
The battles and the bills added up, and just as they lost the income from their husband's military pensions.
However now, after getting through it all, the two women want to help others do the same.
"Just to give them the checklist, and maybe take them to the various places because we certainly know where all these offices are now," Agrifoglio said.
Among the many items needed, are discharge papers, proof of disability, VA paperwork, and registration with the Veterans Cemetery.
Above all, these women recommend planning and paying ahead of time for funeral arrangements. That will give space for remembrance.
"When I feel down, I come to this area and I think of him, and it brings back good memories," Krohn said, looking at a small memorial to her husband in her home.
The first place for veterans spouses to begin the funeral planning process is at the Nueces County Veterans Affairs Office, or with service officers at local VFW branches.
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