Editorial: Five years on, family awaits word on teen

  • FILE - In this file photo released in August 2012 by the Brattleboro Police Department, a poster bears photos of missing Brattleboro, Vt., resident Marble Arvidson. On Aug. 27, 2011, the day before Tropical Storm Irene swept into Vermont -- Arvidson left a note for his roommate that he was headed out and would be back within a couple of hours. But he hasn't been seen since. (AP Photo/ Brattleboro Police Department, File)

Published: 9/2/2016 10:20:08 AM

Families everywhere can feel the ache that remains for relatives of Marble Arvidson who was 17 when he walked away from his foster care home in West Brattleboro, Vermont. It was Aug. 27, 2011, the day before Tropical Storm Irene hit New England.

He was never seen again.

This past week, Arvidson’s aunt, Patricia Kittredge of Belchertown, used the fifth anniversary of his disappearance to call on anyone with information to come forward. To aid that effort, she has been working to develop a photographic image showing what the young man would look like today, at age 22. Anyone with information can contact the Brattleboro Police Department at (802) 257-7946.

Arvidson left home without a jacket or belongings; he wrote a note saying he would soon return. No money was ever withdrawn from his bank account. Arvidson was to be a senior at Brattleboro Union High School. Due to family problems, he was living with a mentor and was in the custody of the Vermont Department of Children and Families.

We hope Kittredge and other members of the Arvidson family find the answers they’ve wanted for years.

Marble Arvidson’s mother, Sigrid Arvidson, said she is desperate for news, whatever that might entail. “The best I can do as a mom is to love him in whatever form he is in right now,” she told the Associated Press. She spoke from her sister’s home the other day while on her first visit east from her home in Colorado since her son’s disappearance.

“My desire is still to locate his physical body.”

That grim desire haunts all families with missing kin. It was 12 years ago that Maura Murray, a nursing student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, disappeared into the night after crashing into a snowbank in New Hampshire on Feb. 9, 2004. She’d told her teachers, falsely, that there had been a death in the family. Murray’s case has received national attention. Arvidson’s has not.

When missing persons’ cases go cold, answers can come when people who know something end their silence. That’s the hope that endures for members of the Arvidson and Murray families.

Also worth noting

ServiceNet Inc., the Northampton human services agency, was the only nonprofit in the state to nab a significant recent grant to help homeless veterans. The agency says it will use $1.2 million awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help an additional 112 people over three years.

In the waning months of the Obama administration, veterans advocates are working to deliver on a promise made in 2009 by the White House and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to end homelessness for this group of people. Since then, yearly January counts have documented progress.

The VA says that since 2010, the number of homeless veterans has fallen by nearly 50 percent. Between January 2015 and January 2016, progress on that front accelerated, according to the VA. In one year, the number of homeless vets fell 17 percent.

Around the country, people have been celebrating the success of the federal Opening Doors program. The state of Virginia, for example, and the cities of Houston and New Orleans all claim to have ended homelessness among veterans.

The campaign is taking place, like a military one, on the ground, in states and localities, wherever the problem exists.

It is present in the Valley, and the new backing from Washington, D.C., will help move the needle locally.

People at ServiceNet say the new funding will allow it to reach out to veterans whose lives are complicated by two of the problems often associated with the chronically homeless – mental health and substance abuse. The goal: helping these former members of the U.S. military get back on track and into permanent homes.

It isn’t easy work, but it is important because it makes a profound difference for people who stepped forward, once upon a time, to serve their country.

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