Veterans Honor Roll Committee to sort out naming

By Susan Mustapich | Sep 05, 2019
Source: File photo Establishing written critieria for listing the names of Camden residents who served in the military on the Veterans Honor Roll on the Village Green will be the focus of a new committee.

CAMDEN — A newly appointed committee is tasked with setting in writing the criteria for individuals who may be added to the Veterans Honor Roll on the Village Green, and creating a process for determining difficult cases.

Select Board Chairman Bob Falciani said Sept. 3 that significant discussions occurred before his time on the board about better identifying the criteria for adding names to the wall, as well as procedures when and if the wall is filled up with names.

Select Board member Alison McKellar brought up a request by a woman to add her brother to the wall, which was denied by the town.

McKellar recently was contacted by Jan Dearborn, who explained efforts to have her brother's name added to the Honor Roll. Her brother, Stanton, was born in Camden and went to high school here. In his senior year, his mother divorced and moved Stanton and Jan to New York. After a few weeks in high school in New York, Stanton left, and went to his aunt's. She allowed him to enlist in the military at age 17 during the Vietnam War. He served two tours, totaling about three years, as a door gunner.

He came home, and when Dearborn picked him up at the airport, the troops received "a typical awful response, having things thrown at them," McKellar said. He came back to Camden, and after a few months, two days before Christmas, he ended his life. He was buried at Mount View Cemetery with military honors, she said.

McKellar researched town information on the history of the Honor Roll. A informal group of citizens, including Elizabeth Moran, Parker Laite, Jim Kierstead and Barbara Dyer, raised money, collected names and "went through a very rigorous process of getting it approved for the Village Green." She has heard from Moran, who has provided a detailed history.

There have been a number of controversies in the past concerning adding names to the wall, McKellar said. She explained that the work of gathering the names for the monument was delegated to the informal group, and the process worked well for a long time. Moran was head of the library, and people would get in touch with her about adding names to the monument.

McKellar said that while the town has several folders with extensive information, there have never been written criteria for being named to the Honor Roll, other than in the media, including The Camden Herald. Additionally, the group did not establish criteria for determining whether someone was or was not a resident. "No matter how perfect the criteria, there are still these difficult cases," she added.

To qualify, a veteran must have been a resident of the town of Camden at the time they joined the armed forces, and must have been in the military or Merchant Marines during wartime. They do not have to have been in combat, according to a newspaper article dated May 22, 2003.

McKellar spoke to Jeff Sukeforth of War Memorial American Legion Post 30, who has assisted people seeking to have names added to the wall by tracking down the required forms. "They've been using DD 214 discharge papers, which lists the hometown of record," she said.

She said a number of people involved with the wall support the idea of a town committee that includes Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell, a member of the Select Board as a liaison, a member of the original Honor Roll fundraising group and someone from the local American Legion post. She said Moran has volunteered for the committee.

The purpose of the group is to put in writing the criteria for adding names to the Honor Roll, as well as recommending a process for review of difficult cases. The committee would bring the naming criteria and its recommendation for a review process to the Select Board, McKellar said.

"We need to make sure the town takes ownership of this and that decisions are made in a public way," she said.

Select Board Member Marc Ratner said he was on the Select Board when the Stanton case was brought to the board. He recalled that whoever was making the decisions insisted that Stanton didn't meet the criteria. Ratner agrees that the criteria are nebulous, and should be clarified to honor those "who did a lot for this country, and certainly in Vietnam who were treated poorly."

Those who have been involved agree that something needs to be done for cases such as Stanton's, McKellar said.

Falciani suggested that the board authorize Caler-Bell to establish a committee of up to five members. Board members unanimously approved the formation of the committee.

The Honor Roll was dedicated on Memorial Day 2007 and at that time contained more than 1,200 names. It was designed by Camden architect Chris Glass and cost $160,000. Leading up to the dedication, more than 100 individuals and businesses contributed to the cost and dozens of volunteers donated time over the six years it took to bring the monument to fruition, according to news reports. The Honor Roll was constructed by and installed on the Village Green by Provost Monuments in Benton.

Comments (4)
Posted by: Bill Packard | Sep 08, 2019 19:15

It seems pretty easy to me.  The criteria that was established when the wall was conceived is the criteria. An appeals board or interested people could then be presented with individual cases and make a determination based on the facts of each individual case and recommend to the Selectboard. In reality, there probably won't be very many cases, but there would be a clear process for those the don't meet the original criteria.



Posted by: Bill Packard | Sep 08, 2019 19:14

It seems pretty easy to me.  The criteria that was established when the wall was conceived is the criteria. An appeals board or interested people could then be presented with individual cases and make a determination based on the facts of each individual case and recommend to the Selectboard. In reality, there probably won't be very many cases, but there would be a clear process for those the don't meet the original criteria.



Posted by: David Franclemont | Sep 08, 2019 06:48

Excellent article Susan. I hope these controversies can be sorted out soon and the appropriate solutions can be found in the near future.



Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Sep 06, 2019 13:33

Congratulations to those who served! Surely this young man should be added. It seems like he lived a poor life as a civilian but died a hero for his country. And so young!

 



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