A group of veterans came together Monday to honor one of their own who died homeless last month. It was an opportunity to give Eric Salitter, a fallen veteran, an appropriate memorial service.
"We've supported one another in battle, we supported one another in peace times, and now, we refuse to let anyone of our brothers be buried like a dog," said United States Air Force veteran Bob Lambert.
Lambert did not know Salitter, who had no family or friends at the end of his life. But for the two dozen military members in attendance, it did not matter whether they knew the man or not. They shared a common bond with him.
"It's because of the veterans that we have the freedoms that this country has," said Lambert. "It behooves the Americans to gather around, come to say thank you and farewell."
Like so many other veterans, Salitter ended up homeless. A nation-wide group called Dignity Memorial works to honor those homeless veterans and give them a proper service.
"There're so many veterans out there that go untaken care of, unclaimed in situations, not matter what the economical situation may be," explained Todd Tramel, a member of Dignity Memorial. "We continue to see growth in the number of homeless veterans, the Vietnam veteran era, the Korean veterans era. Veterans continue to grow in number as they get older."
Tramel organized the service for Salitter. He and other worked with local veteran groups to provide the services that were proud to be a part of it.
"We are honored to be able to give him a final salute for a job well done," said Lambert. "You don't leave the military, you just transition to a veteran status but your heart is still there and when one of your brother, your veteran brothers passes away, part of your goes with them."
Salitter was laid to rest at Fort Gibson National Cemetery on Monday afternoon.