UPDATE: Quick originally was sent to the Oklahoma Military Order of the Purple Heart, where he was told there was no money for funeral services by a new addition to the team. The regional commander, Chuck Adkins, reached out to Quick following the story.
The Order is now beginning the application process for an emergency grant for the family.
FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFSM)—A local family is asking for help after a Vietnam War veteran and Purple Heart recipient passed away.
As a veteran, David Caldwell qualifies to be buried at the national cemetery in Fort Smith, and while some expenses are covered like the burial and headstone, thousands of dollars are still needed for funeral services.
Caldwell passed away on New Year's Day after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was a decorated Vietnam War veteran, but most importantly a father and grandfather.
Family members say he was proud to serve his country.
“He talked very little about it, but what he did talk about he was very proud," said son-in-law Kevin Quick. “I mean he didn’t tell the story of what happened too much because it affected him a lot. He nightmares and he didn’t want to have the flashbacks.”
They say Caldwell had life insurance policies, with one being contested and the other only covering a fraction of the $4,000 needed for funeral services.
Quick says they tried going to other veteran services like the Military Order of the Purple Heart, but no help was available.
“It’s just upsetting, him being a veteran being swept under the carpet. That’s how it feels to me, and we want to make sure that doesn’t happen," Michelle Long, Caldwell's daughter.
Caldwell, a former prisoner of war, was shot 15 times and survived. As a Purple Heart recipient, he can be buried at the Arlington National Cemetary near Washington D.C. He instead wanted his final resting place to be near family in Fort Smith.
Quick says if they can’t come up with the funds for funeral services Caldwell will be cremated, and his remains won’t be released until the family pays up.
“They all say the same thing, there is no help for any veterans as far as the funeral costs. The burials covered but not the funeral costs, and I mean that should be changed especially if you served your country," said Quick.