The son of a Vietnam veteran is fighting to give his late father the honor he says he never received. His father wanted to be buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Omaha, but his son says the government isn't giving him what he deserves.
Sergeant First Class Herman Cato served in the Army for 26 years. He completed two tours of duty in Vietnam, and even continued to work for the Department of Justice after he retired from active duty.
He passed away in Germany in December 2013. Since then his cremated remains have been in his son, Anthony Cato’s, basement inside an unopened box.
Anthony wants to see him get full active duty burial benefits because Herman suffered from Type 2 Diabetes and Tinea Versicolor since he handled Agent Orange.
But Veterans Affairs has denied the request because they say he didn't die from a service connected disease or condition.
"To get a veteran, a distinguished veteran with a bronze star back like this is atrocious,” Anthony explained. “It hurts and it frustrates me, but the hurt is more because as his son I feel like I've let my dad down."
His German death certificate says he died of Sudden Cardiac Arrest.
Anthony says he wants reimbursement for his burial, and Veterans Affairs won't acknowledge the health affects Agent Orange had on his father's life.
The Omaha National Cemetery offers burial benefits to deceased service members at no cost.
Cato says it was his father's request to be with his comrades at Cannon Hill at Forest Lawn Cemetery, and he won't stop until it happens.
"Three almost four years he's not as his final resting place. He's not truly being honored, he's never truly been thanked appropriately in my opinion,” Anthony described.
Cato feels the only way to get his father's benefits right now is to convince the German coroner to change the cause of death.