Social media posts shared by Bluebonnet News readers help locate family of military veteran

By Vanesa Brashier,

The cousin of a Liberty military veteran who was going to be buried Thursday without a single relative in attendance say they learned about his passing after a story posted Wednesday morning on Bluebonnet News was shared by a reader. At last count, the article had been shared by Bluebonnet News readers 1,200 times.

“I saw the story on Facebook and it took my breath away,” said Conna Draughon of Livingston. “We lost touch about 10 years ago after my mother’s funeral. The other odd part of this is that the article was shared by a childhood friend of mine, someone I haven’t seen since we were children.”

Draughon said she and her friend just recently reconnected on Facebook. The article about Terry Vick, 61, a homeless U.S. Army veteran from Liberty, and posted by Bluebonnet News found its way to the friend who lives in Rosenberg.

“It was very strange how it all came about. I just wish I had been able to find Terry while he was alive,” she said.

Draughon said she and Vick were close as children. Her mother was the sister to Vick’s father.

“We were a close-knit family growing up. Terry was really close to our grandmother and she passed away about the same time as Terry’s father,” she said. “He had an extremely sad experience with his family. His mother committed suicide and his two brothers were killed in the same car accident in 1990. When his father died in the mid-1990s and then our grandmother died, Terry was all alone. He drifted out of sight.”

With no wife or children to look out for him, Vick was alone except for his connection to friends. According to Draughon, she attempted to find him on numerous occasions but had no luck.

“We had all been to Liberty looking for him and had gone to the police station. The police were aware of him but did not know where to find him,” she said. “I would drive through the town and go up and down the streets looking for him, but I never found him. I just wish I had been able to find him.”

Draughon appreciates the outpouring of love and support Vick is receiving after his death. She and her husband plan to attend his funeral service on Thursday in Hardin.

“I am so grateful for the people who came together to provide what he needed to have a decent burial,” she said.

Allison Funeral Home in Liberty is making the arrangements for Vick’s funeral at no charge to the family. The funeral will include a flag presentation from the U.S. Army, a gun salute by the Honor Guard of VFW Post 5621 in Liberty, recognition from the American Legion Post and the Patriot Guard Riders.

Vick’s funeral will be held, rain or shine, at Hardin Chapel Cemetery, located at 1005 FM 834 W next to Hardin United Methodist Church. The cemetery is donating a plot for Vick’s burial and Superior Grave Service is assisting with internment.

John Burgess, managing partner for Allison, said that after the article was published online, he received a call from the office of U.S. Rep. Brian Babin (Texas’ 36th Congressional District) to say that Babin had arranged for a flag to be flown over the U.S. Capitol in Vick’s honor. The flag will be given to the family by a representative of Babin’s office at the funeral.

“It’s an incredible feeling to see an act of kindness have such a ripple effect. It makes you know you did the right thing. We are privileged to be a part of it,” Burgess said. “I think we are all just taking care of people the way we would want our own family to be treated.”

Finding Vick’s family, he said, proves the power of social media.

“We all complain about social media at times, but the power of it is pretty amazing,” he said.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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