Missing In America Project
For generations, they’ve waited.
Unclaimed, forgotten, silently occupying the shelves of mortuaries and state
hospitals across the United States.
The cremated remains (cremains) of veterans, many indigent, many more forgotten
through loss of family and friends wait for someone to remember them.
Today, the Missing in America Project – called MIAP for short – is seeking out
what could potentially be tens of thousands of unburied veterans who served in
wars throughout the past century.
Their stories have begun to emerge
from the shadows of society’s forgetfulness. The American Legion, partnered with
MIAP, want to see them honored and given a final resting place.
The movement’s founder is Vietnam veteran Fred Salanti of Grants Pass, Ore.
While working as a regional facilitator for the Patriot Guard Riders, Salanti
became involved with conducting monthly services at regional and state
cemeteries for veterans with no family and no money.
It was then that he stumbled across the unrecognized need to bury indigent and
forgotten veterans, who’s cremains have be languishing on the shelves of funeral
homes, mortuaries and state hospitals across the United States for decades.
MIAP, with the help of The American Legion, will meet that need.
The MIAP’s guidelines call for assisting funeral homes with researching all
cremains in their possession to find veterans, submitting the cremain’s records
to the Veterans Administration Cemetery System for screening for eligibility for
burial and notifying funeral homes of cremains eligible for burial.
The funeral homes must then follow requirements for submitting the cremains to a
VA cemetery. From there, MIAP will coordinate a full military service with the
In a piece that won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing, The Oregonian
told the story of 3,500 cremains, many of people who had been patients in the
state hospital, which were put in copper, quart-sized cans and stacked on
shelves in a basement storage room.
One thousand of those forgotten souls are expected to be veterans. The findings
span the years from 1890 to 1971, an era that begins with the Spanish American
War and ends with Vietnam.
While Oregon is the most glaring case, the discoveries are taking place around
In Michigan, they’re working to identify 350 sets of cremains recently
discovered. In Reno, 34 unburied vets recently were discovered. Idaho
alone has found and interred 91 vets.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
If you would like to become involved with the local MIAP effort, contact Fred
Salanti via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Monetary donations are also requested. MIAP will need donations to pay for
fees in states where burial and transfer fees aren’t waived. MIAP is a
nonprofit, so donations are tax-deductible.
For more information about MIAP and Patriot Guard, visit them online at
Missing In America Program Brochure