Thursday, April 19, 2012

Final Honors, the Flag, and Courage!

Greetings,  we have such a good story to tell you! 

There once was a very brave soldier who suffered extensively from debilitating PTSD and an extended, rugged journey to recovery.  Very recently, through an usual and very effective team effort, an alternative, comprehensive PTSD program significantly changed her perspective, her health, and indeed her life.  Throughout the long PTSD journey, however, nothing had ever gotten in the way of honoring her fellow battle buddies.  She volunteered her time as a bugler for Military Funeral Honors Corps, met with families, reached out to veterans at public events, and each time overrode her own severe discomfort with being among crowds.  Even with occasional setbacks, she always persevered and stretched to do the right thing.

Yesterday was one of those days.  In her home state of Missouri, a soldier had died in Afghanistan and Governor Nixon had ordered that all flags were to be at half-mast to honor him on the day of his funeral.  This was a law enacted in January 2011, and was to include all flags on all properties to include federal properties. 

The funeral of the fallen soldier was held yesterday 1300 hours at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, and though other flags were at half-mast throughout the state, the one at the VA post where the funeral took place was not.  This appalled her.  So, she went into the VA building and asked who was in charge of the flag?  A man answered that he was.  She asked why the flag wasn’t at half-mast?  He answered that it was federal property and “go tell someone else your problem”.  She left the building, went out to the flag pole marking the Path of Honor (where several veterans were sitting) and personally lowered the flag to half-mast.  She did this as a gesture of respect, honor, and in keeping with protocol.  The veterans present applauded her efforts.

However, the VA police were called and they said they would have to arrest her.  She asked, what law did she break?  She was told again that the VA was federal property and didn’t need to comply with the Governor’s request, though this is untrue.  The police repeated that she would be arrested – in fact, five  policemen surrounded her.  Remember, she suffers from severe PTSD.  She held her ground, deeply upset. Words were exchanged, but one of the policemen said he was also a veteran, and told her he understood honors and respect for a fallen comrade.  She agreed to leave and was not arrested.  Moments later, the flag was again raised to the top.  Her mission was accomplished - Corporal White was honored through the actions of this faithful soldier.

In our opinion, this veteran, a former Volunteer of the Year by the city Police Department, one of four buglers in the state of Missouri to assist at military funerals, and a solid battle buddy to the core deserves a commendation for this patriotic action.  She has been deeply effected by her service to this country, but she put herself at considerable health risk to provide honor and dignity to one who had paid the ultimate price. 

This blog posting is dedicated to Bonnie Casler, MSG, USA (Ret). 

Very respectfully,



  1. This is an outstanding blog!! hats off to everyone invoolved. I am riveted here!!!

  2. Donnie, thank you for your comment. Pass the story far and wide - it's rare that courage is taken in the face of so many hurdles. Let's help our troops to heal and know we care. ~Linda

  3. It has come to my attention that this public law 110-41 was dated in 2007. That means the Flag at Jefferson Barracks has not been lowered for any veteran killed on active duty for 5 years. Good to know a wrong has been corrected. Serve our veterans by getting out the word. ALL National Flags are lowered to half staff for a veteran killed while serving on active duty. If a Governor of a state proclaims flags to be lowered, that includes federal property as well.

  4. Outstanding writing Linda. What a story and so very very proud to call Bonnie a friend. We all need friends like that. I will share this everywhere I can.

  5. Nicholas, you are correct. The Director called MSG Casler on Friday and stated that this would not happen again in the future. We agree with you that spreading the word about honoring fallen troops with the visible gesture of flying the flags half-mast is an important act of respect and honor to those who serve -- and to their family who live on after their loss. MSG Casler has corrected an important period of error and is to be commended on many levels. ~Linda