Hundreds of strangers mourned the death of a homeless U.S. Navy veteran on Tuesday as they filled seats at a Wyoming chapel.
Stephen Carl Reiman, 63, died in a Wyoming hospital on November 17, roughly a week after arriving on a bus with only a backpack and a few small possessions.
He arrived in Sheridan on November 8 after coming from Southern California community for homeless veterans.
Among his possessions were Bruce Springsteen CDs, a laptop, an iPod, a cellphone, two identification cards, a copy of his birth certificate and his Navy discharge papers. He was also carrying Springsteen’s memoir “Born to Run.”
Natrona County Coroner Connie Jacobson told the Associated Press that just a few days after arriving, he became ill at motel and was later taken to Wyoming Medical Center in Casper, dying a few days afterwards. No one visited Reiman at the hospital.
Jacobson said she had trouble finding family of the veteran, but after a few days, she was hoping the community would come out to honor him.
“One of the reasons I did this was to raise community awareness that we have homeless vets in our own communities,” Jacobson said. “They deserve the same recognition and honor that any other vet would get.”
One week into searching for his family, Jacobson located Reiman’s sister, Diane, who hadn’t seen or heard from her brother in more than two years. She said that Reiman worked as a firefighter in Casper for several years during the later 70’s and early 80’s.
Jacobson later found Reiman’s daughter-in-law and her daughter, but they weren’t able to afford to come to the funeral.
Reiman served in the Navy between 1971 and 1975 and served in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. He told a Veterans Affairs doctor that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, alcoholism and depression, which was only made worse due to his son’s death in combat in Iraq.
It was standing room only at the chapel in Evansville for Reiman’s funeral, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. Hundreds of people came to the service to honor the veteran.