A place to rest for the ‘missing man’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 22, 2018

SALISBURY – The Salisbury VA Health Care System has added a chair in the lobby of the main hospital that will remain empty as a memorial to military personnel who are missing in action.

The simple wood chair is painted black with a black and white shield on the backrest. The chair sits on a small pedestal.

The Prisoner of War (POW)/Missing in Action (MIA) emblem is on the shield on the backrest.

“The Chair of Honor represents the place an MIA service member would occupy with their military brothers and sisters if they had come home. It is a way of showing that we will never forget them,” said Chaplain Ryan Wager, chief of chaplain services at Salisbury VA.

“This was an exceptional idea from our Veterans and Family Advisory Council to commemorate those service members who are still missing in action,” said Joseph Vaughn, medical center director. “I hope this assures the veterans and family members who come through our lobby — especially those who know someone who is still classified as MIA — until every service member returns home or is laid to rest, we will not forget them.”

When a military member cannot be found, he is classified as missing in action. For U.S. MIAs in combat zones, this frequently means they have been killed, wounded or captured and are unable to return to their unit.

A service member is declared killed in action only if they are positively identified or it is determined the body is not recoverable. While in MIA status, a service member’s family continues to receive military pay and benefits or the salary is placed in a trust until their return or their remains are recovered.

As of Nov. 16, there are 82,177 service members still missing in action, dating back to World War I.

The POW)/MIA emblem features a white disc bearing the black silhouette of a man, a watch tower with a guard on patrol, and a strand of barbed wire. Above the disc in white are the letters POW and MIA with a five-pointed star between them. Below the disc is a black and white wreath above the white motto: “You are not forgotten.”

For more information about VA services, visit www.explore.va.gov or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/VASalisbury.