ROCHESTER, N.H. (AP) – Now that four forgotten servicemen have been laid to rest, veterans groups are working to make sure others aren’t being overlooked.

The veterans, whose cremated remains were abandoned years ago at a Manchester funeral home, were buried with military honors Friday after attempts to contact their survivors failed. Following the efforts by funeral director Arthur Phaneuf and Roger Desjardins, director of the state veterans cemetery, other groups are coming forward to ensure other veterans also are honored.

Dan Meehan of Rochester is the state coordinator for the Missing in America Veterans Recovery Program, a national project to find, identify and properly inter the unclaimed cremated remains of forgotten veterans. He plans to contact all funeral homes in New Hampshire to determine whether any have unclaimed remains of service members. Anyone who was honorably discharged is entitled to free burial in the state veterans cemetery.

“We don’t want anybody left behind,” he said.

Russ Armstrong of Guilford, who serves on the veterans subcommittee for the state Council on Aging, said he wants to recruit representatives from each county to contact their local funeral homes. The group then will work with the veterans cemetery.

Charles Hafner, president of the New Hampshire Funeral Directors Association, said he believes most funeral directors would support a movement to inter unclaimed remains of veterans “as long as we’re fairly certain no family members are going to come forward and object to it.”

Phaneuf said his staff has redoubled efforts to track down relatives of others whose remains have been left at his funeral home. Under a law passed in 2006, funeral directors are authorized to dispose of cremated remains that have not been claimed after 60 days, after making a reasonable attempt to contact family. It’s not clear whether the law applies to remains left at funeral homes before that date.

Desjardins said he hopes the story of the forgotten soldiers will spur people to properly inter all unclaimed remains being kept at funeral homes, not just veterans.


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