Veterans Honored Interment

Origin of Veterans Honored Interment (VHI)

VHI founder Paul Redfield, a resident of the Michael J. Fitzmaurice South Dakota Veterans Home, conceived this project in 1999. Veterans Honored Interment (VHI) is the result of his vision of providing an honorable and dignified burial vessels for fellow veterans and their spouses.

Paul’s character was honed early in his life by his prairie upbringing, living through the great depression, and serving in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was involved in many community projects like supporting Prairie Village in Madison, SD, being the first to contribute to the state World War II memorial, and teaching younger citizens respect for the flag.

One of the most personal concerns of Paul was the dilemma when servicemen were returning home to which Paul was a personal witness. Many veterans were buried in dishonorable conditions, and Paul didn't want to see it happen at the state home. He wanted to show respect for those who were willing to leave their jobs and family and risk their lives so we can enjoy freedom and democracy. He wanted to guarantee that all veterans, regardless of their financial circumstances, had a dignified burial vessel.

Paul first obtained permission from the Blue Cloud Abby to utilize their proven simple design for the caskets. The Benedictine monks were located outside of Milbank, SD for many years. With a little help from his friends at the State Veterans Home, Gary Schuh, the manager of PRO-Build in Hot Springs, and carpenter Lester Zimiga, the first VHI vessel was built in the Veterans Home Maintenance Shop by Lester. Soon after, production of vessels began at the Custer Youth Corrections Center in Custer, SD by supervised adult prisoner trustees. In November 2000, the first VHI casket was issued.

Later, the vessels were built by volunteers at the State Veterans Home, but the demand for them soon outpaced the limitations of the residents. Now, additional vessels are also crafted by veteran volunteers in Sioux Falls. These veterans have a great sense of camaraderie, pride, and devotion to their work. Upon Paul’s death in 2002, he was buried in the first prototype casket made by VHI volunteers.


What are the Eligibility Requirements for a VHI Burial Vessel?

* Be an active or former member of the active military, National Guard, or selected reserve.
* Have been released under conditions other than dishonorable.
* Be the spouse of a veteran that meets the former requirements.
* Provide a copy of the veteran's DD-214 or other discharge certificate.
* Be a South Dakota resident and plan to use the VHI burial vessel in South Dakota.

Does my Spouse Qualify for a VHI Burial Vessel?

Yes, if you’re a veteran who meets the requirements you and your spouse both qualify for a VHI burial vessel.

  • Click here to learn more about the VHI program.

  • Click here to learn more about how to order a VHI burial vessel.

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