Kyle Scott: Honoring Veterans is his “best reward”
A Veteran himself, Cpl Kyle Scott (Ret'd) has been involved as a volunteer with the Last Post Fund since 2018.
When Kyle is asked about his motivation for getting involved in the Last Post Fund Lost Veterans Initiative, he hearkens back to the "dark place" he was in after returning from two tours of duty in Afghanistan in 2004-05 and 2006. As Kyle struggled to come to terms with the complex and sometimes conflicting feelings experienced by returning Veterans, he found solace in visiting the Whitecourt, AB Field of Honour. It was a place where he felt he could be alone, yet among brethren.
During these visits, he noticed several of the headstones were in a poor state of repair. Kyle did some research and eventually came across the Veterans Affairs Canada Grave Marker Maintenance Program. The following spring, he found comfort in seeing the once-damaged headstones repaired or replaced with new stones. It wasn't long before Kyle started expanding his visits to neighbouring cemeteries, where he began to notice not just damaged, but also what appeared to be missing headstones.
This is where his contact with the Last Post Fund was initiated. Kyle learned that a local war hero of both WW2 and the Korean war, Donald Albert Smith, lay without a headstone. Kyle patiently waited until the 5-year mark after Smith's death to submit an application to the LPF Unmarked Grave Program. The pride and sense of closure that he felt when Smith's grave was marked (see photo below) inspired him to continue his work. To date, Kyle has submitted nearly 500 applications and is our most active volunteer researcher.
Does he have any advice to offer interested volunteers? "You can do a lot from home using the online research tools that are available. It's great to get out in the field of course, and walking the cemetery can even be therapeutic for many, especially for Veterans; but there is a lot that can be done from home too." Kyle has developed relationships with town office employees and record keepers who are eager to assist him in his mission. "It makes it a lot easier when people know why you're asking for information, and I've found folks often go above and beyond to help in the mission of identifying Lost Veterans."
As a fourth-generation Canadian Veteran and someone with first-hand combat experience, Kyle muses "Sometimes I wish I could just go back in time and offer these Veterans the resources they would have needed to get through their situation. The next best thing I can offer is to see to it that they are properly honoured with a military marker commemorating their service. That's my best reward."
Field Notes is a newsletter dedicated to highlighting the work of Last Post Fund volunteer researchers contributing to the Lost Veterans Initiative. If you are interested in finding out more about the Initiative, please contact Last Post Fund at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling: 1-800-465-7113.