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YRC Worldwide: transporting the final tribute.

America's veterans are plentiful: In a November 2010 report, the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimated the US veterans' population at 22,658,000.

Many of those men and women were honored for their military service. Some received well-deserved medals. Others were thanked with heartfelt praise. They came home to the welcome embrace of proud families and communities. Others served--in armed conflict and during peace time--but received no special recognition. Not every vet earns a medal. Few vets come home to a parade these days.


One important honor remains available to all veterans, however: a fitting, final tribute. The VA will furnish headstones or markers for the gravesites of deceased veterans, regardless of their final resting place.

According to the department's website, the VA "furnishes upon request, at no charge to the applicant, a government headstone or marker for the unmarked grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world, regardless of their date of death.

"For eligible veterans that died on or after November 1, 1990, and whose grave is marked with a privately purchased headstone, VA may also furnish a headstone or marker to supplement the graves or a medallion to be affixed to the privately purchased headstone."

The challenge, of course, is ensuring safe and timely delivery of these invaluable items to "any cemetery around the world"--and that's where YRC Worldwide is honored to come in. With international transportation and logistics services and an experienced government solutions team, it's our privilege to help deliver these permanent tributes.

"With the most comprehensive network in North America, YRC is well positioned to help the VA keep this important promise," says Tim Johnson, vice president of government solutions for YRC Worldwide. "We've delivered tombstones and markers everywhere from Alaska to a remote Indian reservation in Nevada. Wherever the need is, that's where we go."

The headstones are produced in just four sites around the country, but their ultimate destinations are tremendously diverse. Johnson says dedicated personnel at the YRC Worldwide Des Moines call center work closely with the VA to ensure that delivery requirements are met. As part of the YRC Worldwide service, track and trace capabilities monitor shipment status along the way, bringing peace of mind and confidence to those waiting for delivery.

The need for this special transportation service increases as time goes by: The aging of our country is making a noticeable difference. According to the November 2010 VA report, more than 40 percent of the veteran population is 65 or older; the VA estimates that 800 World War II vets die every day.

In Kansas City, Missouri, Sheffield Cemetery is the final resting place for many veterans, including Allen Sokoloff, a World War II vet who died in 2005 at the age of 86. In keeping with his wishes, Sokoloff's family ordered a double tombstone from a private company for the gravesite. Knowing how important his time in the service was, the family also requested a marker from the VA.

"My father was never one to boast, and--like many vets of his generation--he didn't talk very much about his time in the Navy," says Janet Harness, one of Sokoloff's three children. "However, when he did speak about his experiences as a Lieutenant JG in the Philippines, it was clear he was proud of our country and considered it his duty to help protect our freedoms."

Harness says the family ordered the tombstone knowing the marker would be added and eagerly anticipated the marker's delivery and placement. Delivery options to Sheffield Cemetery--and other cemeteries around the world--are limited by religious rules and business requirements. With a full suite of Guaranteed Precision[R] and Expedited Precision[R] offerings, YRC Worldwide expertly manages the logistics to deliver VA shipments on time and intact.

"The VA tribute means a great deal to the family; Dad's time in the Navy helped shape his life," she said. "We included a military salute during his funeral, covered his casket with a flag, and are honored to have the military marker on his tombstone. We want people to know--for years to come--that he was part of the Greatest Generation."

The tombstones and markers can be ordered by the next of kin, according to federal regulations. To help ensure inclusivity, however, the National Cemetery Administration will also accept requests from "funeral home directors, cemetery officials, and DOD appointed Casualty Assistance Officers."

For information on the headstones and markers, visit
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Publication:Defense Transportation Journal
Date:Feb 1, 2011
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