Family needs help paying for Vietnam veteran’s funeral

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LONGMONT, Colo. -- The family of a local Vietnam veteran needs your help. Their father died Sunday, and they say they do not have enough money to give him a proper military burial.

“Alexander liked my handwriting,” widow, Lea Kehm said.

It’s a unique love story, that started with the stroke of a pen.

“They would ask the young single girls if they’d be willing to write letters and send cookies at Christmastime to the guys in Vietnam,” Kehm said.

During the Vietnam War, Lea wrote letters to men serving in the military. Sergeant Alexander Kehm happened to receive one of Lea’s letters, and wrote back.

“He picked my letter and we got to writing and talking about anything and everything. We really clicked,” Kehm said.

As he returned to U.S. soil, Sgt. Kehm had a new mission – to meet Lea in person. The two got married. But while raising their family, Kehm suffered medical complications from his exposure to Agent Orange.

“Started off when he was in Vietnam, and the reason he was discharged. He had nerve damage and it would cause his legs to go out,” daughter, Christie Kehm said.

But despite the setbacks, Kehm kept his fun-loving spirt. He made a bet with his son’s varsity Longmont football team.

“My husband, bless his heart, looked at the boys and says if you take state, I’ll shave my head – and he did. And he had an ugly head. Oh my God. And there he was bald. And the boys were so proud because he went through it and kept his promise,” Lea Kehm said.

In recent years Kehm’s condition got worse. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, heart disease and diabetes. His wife became his full-time caregiver. He was unable to get medical insurance. Kehm passed away on Sunday.

As the family deals with the grief of losing their hero, they are working to see how much Fort Logan and the VA will help cover for the military burial and funeral. But they’re worried the remaining costs will still be thousands of dollars.

“You can’t skimp saying goodbye to my dad. He deserves to go out and have a proper goodbye,” Christie Kehm said.

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