Retired Navy Lt. George Will was a recent guest speaker at the Tangipahoa Volunteers for Family and Community meeting.
The group is an all-volunteer arm of the LSU Extension Service that meets quarterly.
Will represented South East Louisiana Military Organization, a local nonprofit organization of veterans of all military services.
SELMO’s purpose is the coordination of efforts to better serve veterans with the limited funds available to military service organizations, he said.
One of the group’s main local projects is involvement in the national Wreath Across America program, which places balsam wreaths on veterans’ graves. Individuals preorder wreaths that are delivered to one central location in the area for distribution. On the same day — Dec. 12 this year — the wreaths are laid. Friends and family of veterans of all wars from the Revolutionary War to the current conflict are invited to purchase the wreaths, he said.
SELMO and WAA work together to place wreaths on all veterans’ graves nationally, he said. Last year, Wreath Across America placed wreaths on more than 720,000 graves nationwide, and SELMO placed more than 100 wreaths locally.
SELMO hopes to distribute 500 wreaths this year, he said.
Another part of the Wreaths Across America project undertaken by SELMO is the identification of every veteran’s grave in Tangipahoa Parish, he said.
Will distributed forms asking TVFC members to search local cemeteries for veteran’s graves, even if not a family member. The location and other pertinent information will be logged into a database.
Many of these graves no longer have family members locally to report the location, he said.
Local residents are encouraged to adopt these graves as a way of respect for the service these men and women have given, he said. For more information to order a wreath, adopt a local grave or request a Veterans Graves Location Project form, call Will at (985) 517-0076.
Tangipahoa Volunteers for Family and Community is a local group volunteering more than 6,000 hours each year to area charitable organizations, Sandra Madere said. For information, call the extension office in Amite at (985) 748-9381.