Veterans serve families at Alabama National Cemetery

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO – The Alabama National Cemetery staff holds more than a typical work-related camaraderie. The men and women who take care of the cemetery can offer mourning families more than compassion. They can offer understanding, as all of the employees are U.S. military veterans themselves.

“I’ve always felt that it’s a good idea to hire veterans,” said Whitehead, who is an Army veteran. “You form bonds with folks when you’re in the military. Even when I got out, I still wanted to serve, and this is a way to do that.

“We have something in common,” she added. “As veterans, we care. All of us will be buried in a national cemetery someday, and we want to be treated well.”

Lavon Roberts, who was a chief foreign officer with the Navy, said he never expected to be doing this type of work, but when the job opened, he took the opportunity.

“My mother used to spank me when I played in the mud, but now I get paid for it,” he said, laughing.

“People come up and give us a hug and thank us for taking care of their loved one,” he said of veterans’ families.

Assistant to the Director Donnie Sisk is a veteran of both the Air Force and Army and is currently in the Army Reserve.

“There’s something about the guys and the ladies here,” he said. “There’s a camaraderie there.”

“It’s a pretty noble profession,” he added. “Regardless of the station of those buried here, we have a bond with them. We know; we understand. Some days it’s tough, but we still have to try to make it for the family. We’re honored to be charged with this.”