UNION COUNTY—The ashes of Michael H. Carden, 64, a lifelong resident of Plainfield who died at home on April 19, will be laid to rest with full Naval honors on Friday, May 15, at Gen. Doyle Cemetary in Wrightstown.
Carden served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War employed as a barber, but the Judkins’ Colonial Home postponed his scheduled funeral a day before he was to be interred when finances became an issue between the mortuary and the family.
Wanda Majette, Carden’s daughter, had made funeral arrangements for two other family members but said she never experienced anything like what Judkins put her through when her father passed away.
When the funeral service was cancelled at the last minute, Majette contacted the county office of veterans affairs, which she said ultimately led her to a private citizen who provided funds to get the body released from the Judkins funeral home.
That good Samaritan, who requested anonymity, made arrangements to have the remains transported to the cemetery in Wrightstown on Friday free of charge by Joseph Gibilisco, of the Lehrer-Gibilisco Funeral Home in Rahway.
“A funeral home called a few weeks ago and scheduled a committal service for Mr. Carden and later called back to cancel that service,” said Gary R. Englert, director of the Division of Veterans Services in the state Department of Military & Veterans Affairs, who noted that “privacy concerns preclude us from providing any further information.”
Union County American Legion Commander Donald Channel said it is important to identify the veterans and make sure people know what benefits are available.
“Veterans should reach out to veterans’ organizations so we can help out in these situations,” Channel said.
“There is no cost for any eligible veteran’s—or his/her qualified dependent’s—burial in a state or federal veteran cemetery,” Englert said.
“New Jersey state law requires that county governments insure that any indigent, honorably discharged veteran be provided with a dignified burial,” Englert said. “Notwithstanding, there are many funeral directors who will handle the arrangements, free of charge, for indigent veterans.”
Richard Thompson, director of the county office of veterans affairs, said funeral directors should be aware of benefits available through the federal Veterans’ Administration.
Carden is survived by his sons, Richard of Charlotte, N.C., Victor of Morristown, Erick of Charlotte, N.C., Michael Carden of Trenton, Carlton Smalls of Charleston and Michael Pollard of Trenton; daughters, Wanda Carden Majette of Plainfield, Shad-e Carden of Charleston, S.C., Keisha Pollard of Newark and Edna Brown of Plainfield; a brother, Kenneth Vannostrand; 26 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Two other veterans, who have been left in a mortuary in Lodi for some period of time, are to be interred at the veterans’ cemetery later the same day.
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