“American Legion Family” Gains New Meaning When Tragedy Strikes

American Legion Department Adjutant, Hugh Dagley wrote this piece for the February/March 2012 edition of Hoosier Legionnaire following the death of his son.

As many of you know, my wife and I lost our oldest son Kevin earlier this month. Such a tragic event changes everything in an instant. It changes the significant things, it changes the insignificant things. It changes the big things and the small things. Indeed, it changes even this, my first column as your Department Adjutant.

I had intended to thank Commander Miller, the members of the DEC, the officers and leaders I have worked with over the years, and the many well-wishers for this extraordinary opportunity to serve as Indiana’s Department Adjutant. That was to be it, and then on to business at hand. That is no longer sufficient.

The outpouring of support, concern and compassion for the men and women of The American Legion Family during this time of sorrow has been not only overwhelming but also comforting beyond words. Only those who have experienced what my family and I have can know how important your cards, letters, emails, phone calls, visits and flowers have meant to us. I am humbled by the expression of support, the prayers, and the thoughtful silences that demonstrated your feelings for us.

Every day we refer to ourselves as The American Legion Family. Please, never do so again casually or out of habit. What I have experienced can only be attributed to the same quality of love and concern that normally is reserved for blood ties. I will always remember your kindness, and I will always be grateful for my American Legion Family.

As members of The American Legion Department of Indiana, we are fortunate to have a group of business partners to offer goods and services that not only benefit us individually, but also corporately by supporting the Department. Whether it is insurance products, flags and banners, seasonal cards, or funeral services, our partners can all be relied on for an extra measure of services and professionalism.

Do not take these benefits lightly. Many of them bring with them significant savings; all of them bring with them a very real appreciation for your service and your sacrifices as veterans. I encourage you to carefully consider the benefits of dealing with our partners. I can so encourage you, not only because I am an officer of the corporation, but also believe I am a Legionnaire who has tested the promises of all these partners and find them understated and utterly reliable.

Because of our recent loss one in particular stands out, and in my view has earned my most unqualified endorsement. That is Veterans Funeral Care, under the thoughtful and compassionate management of David Ring.

The news of our son’s death called on us to make a seemingly endless set of decisions, none of which my wife and I were prepared for, and all of which required immediate attention. We could not have accomplished it alone. Because of Veterans Funeral Care, one of the Department’s premiere business partners, we did not have to. With one phone call, VFC took on every task related to laying a loved one to rest. No detail was overlooked, and no reasonable special request denied. I am convinced that the same level of attention and care given to my family and me would be given by David and his staff to every family who approaches him.

It should not go unsaid that the cost of the final arrangements for a loved one has skyrocketed over the past few years. Whether intentionally or not, the funeral industry has become adept at selling, often a la carte, services and products that can add up to five figures or more, and the cloud of emotion can make it difficult to make sound decisions.

VFC has avoided that. Services and products are bundled and offered with no additional charges. Comparisons with price lists at other providers show that VFC’s promise of services at half or more then cost charged by traditional providers is a reality.

I encourage the entire American Legion Family to discuss its funeral needs in advance with Veterans Funeral Care. The peace of mind, ease of planning and manageable costs will not bring your loved one back, but in a small but meaningful way, can make the loss a little more bearable.

I am indebted to David and his staff, and proud to have him as a valued partner of The American Legion, Department of Indiana.

Again, to all of you who prayed for us, thought of us, or sent a tangible expression of your condolences, thank you. I look forward to serving you for many years to come.

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