Waiver clears way for homeless veteran's burial in Chattanooga National Cemetery

Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Two U.S. Navy sailors fold a flag for Melissa Gail Miner, a homeless veteran, during her funeral service at Chattanooga National Cemetery on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021 ,in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The official record shows Melissa Gail Miner was a 51-year-old U.S. Navy veteran who died in July and left no family.

But Renee Chisholm said she attended Miner's Chattanooga National Cemetery funeral Wednesday because she considers her fellow veteran a "sister" – even though they never met.

"To me, when you're military, everyone's your family," said Chisholm, adding that she served in Germany with the U.S. Army nearly 50 years ago.

"My faith and belief are that she knows I'm here, and that I love her," Chisholm said. "I just wish I could have known her."

Miner was homeless at the time of her death, and Sam Wolfe, director of the city of Chattanooga's Office of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, said he'd gotten to know her in recent years.