New Plan is Established to Help Families of Fallen Troops

New Plan is Established to Help Families of Fallen Troops

After meeting on active military duty in California in 1981, Amelia Justice and her husband, Thomas, were inseparable.

Besides their four decades of marriage, they had two beautiful children who also joined the military. Until 2014, the world was happy for them, but it began to crumble when Thomas suffered something similar to a stroke during a physical flight.  

His condition worsened after he retired from the armed forces. He wound up in the hospital and died 14 days later. 

After Thomas’s death, Amelia said she was overwhelmed with the number of phone calls she had to make to get matters like surviving benefits, retirement benefits, and funeral services sorted out.

COVID-19 attendance restrictions required Amelia to wait more than three months for a private service for Thomas at the Art Center of Corpus Christi. A funeral that did not include full military honors. 

Wanda Arnold, another military widow, is in the same situation as that of so many other families of deceased veterans. She was not entitled to benefits until her husband's death certificate was amended to include a service-related cause of death.

They grieve, but they are also left to deal with the aftermath of the death of loved ones who fought for their country. In many cases, they get a runaround and not much help.

Amelia wonders why surviving families of veterans are not treated equally to those who are serving on active duty.

Amelia's concerns were shared with Nueces County Veterans Services Officer J.J. De La Cerda, who pledged to help with survivor benefits and a memorial with full military honors.

Additionally, he committed to creating a proactive, step-by-step program for surviving family members now and in the future.

"It's about helping everyone, not only in the Coastal Bend but maybe we can make this a national thing where it's a program that's a go-to program," said De La Cerda.