U.S. Air Force Mile High Honor Guard Airmen render a three volley salute during military funeral honors July 11, 2012, at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Wolfram Stumpf)

In the work that I do with veterans, and often in comments and conversations about the articles I write here on the Head Space and Timing blog, I hear variations on a theme. “Nobody really cares about veterans anymore” or “the only one that understands me is other combat veterans.” I get it; these comments, and the thoughts behind them, come from a place of frustration. They’re based on observations about how difficult it sometimes is to get our needs met, either for employment, housing, health care, you name it.

Just because some believe that, though, doesn’t make it so. There are those who are not veterans who care for veterans.

And just because the veteran has passed on, doesn’t mean that we stop caring.

Several weeks ago, a connection brought someone who supported veterans to my attention. This gentleman, Timothy McCombs, was a former coal miner and budding entrepreneur with an interesting problem: too much spent brass. As any lower enlisted service member can tell you from a day on the range, spent brass can pile up pretty quick; one night, Tim and his brother figured out how to turn that brass into cash by making some pretty neat stuff.

Tim’s not a veteran, he wasn’t able to join. He is the son of a veteran, though; his father spent over twenty years in the Army. Even though he’s not a veteran himself, he obviously has a passion for veterans. He told me that he loves reaching out and helping veterans in any way he can; which leads me to the first part of this post.

In our conversation, he told me a story about a distant relative of his that reached out to him and requested a custom piece. Instead of using his own stock of brass, however, she asked if he could make her a cross from the brass from her husband’s Three Volley Salute at his memorial service. Intrigued, he travelled to her home and spent some time with her. This is what he told me:

We sat and talked about her husband, his service, and their family for about an hour. I enjoyed it so much knowing that when she talked about him she smiled and choked up a bit, and I could help her always think of him and give her something that sparks the conversation that makes her smile.

I was also intrigued, and wanted to hear more.

George Pruitt served in the Army in the mid-70s, serving in Korea, two miles south of the DMZ, as well as Fort Sill, Fort Knox, and Aberdeen Proving Grounds. He and his wife, Judy, were married just short of forty years when he passed away in July of 2016.

Mr. Pruitt’s memorial service, including burial with full military honors, was held on 28 July 2016.

For those of you unfamiliar with military honors provided for veterans, you can read more about it here. As it says in the linked article, military funeral honors for eligible veterans is mandated by law. The honors include a representative from the veteran’s branch of service, and a three volley salute. The casings from this salute are often folded into the service member’s flag and presented to the family.

It was this brass casing that Mrs. Pruitt asked Tim to turn into a necklace with a chain long enough so that it could hang close to her heart.

Top Left: Tim McCombs Bottom Left: Pat McCombs II Center: Judy Pruitt Right: George Pruitt’s Cross

In the middle of our own frustrated, hectic lives, we sometimes forget the impact that our service has on those around us. Tim and Pat’s generosity…he didn’t charge Judy for the necklace, by the way…and their service to the memory of a veteran reminds us that there are people who care. There are people who support veterans and their families.

Our service does mean something.

If you’re interested in seeing more of the work that Tim and Pat have done, and get some for yourself, check out their stuff here. If nothing else, send a quick note of thanks for their dedication and generosity, and then maybe look around to see where you can pass it on.


The Head Space and Timing Blog is supported by the Colorado Veterans Health and Wellness Agency, a 501(c)3 Nonprofit in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The goal of the CVHWA is to provide military culturally competent mental health counseling to veterans and their spouses, regardless of characterization of discharge, time of service, or era of service. Our vision is to assist veterans to identify and remove barriers to their mental, physical, emotional, and behavioral wellness. For questions or inquiries, contact us!

Duane France

Duane K. L. France is a combat veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a mental health counselor practicing in the state of Colorado. Do you want to join the conversation regarding veteran mental health? Share, like, and comment. Read Duane's previous posts and follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn. Keep the conversation about #veteranmentalhealth going.


Dianne Brown · February 22, 2017 at 10:21 am

Incredible story… thank you for passing it on. Very moving and heart felt.

Patrick McCombs II · February 22, 2017 at 7:50 pm

It was an honor to be able to do this thanks so much for the nice article

Billy McCombs · February 23, 2017 at 2:17 am

Tim and Pat are my younger brothers. I am also a veteran, and I know my brothers truly do care about our military veterans. They make me very proud to be their older brother!

Patrick McCombs · February 23, 2017 at 9:19 am

It is hard to say something about them without seeming prideful, they are my children and I am humbled!

Comments are closed.