UPDATE: W.Va. Senate bill aims to allow military funerals at public schools

By  | 

POCA, W.Va. (WSAZ) - UPDATE: 2/5/2019, 7:00 p.m.

West Virginia Senate Bill 154, if passed, would ensure that funerals and memorial services can be held at public school facilities for fallen soldiers, veterans, and first responders across the state.

In November, the death of a soldier, Specialist Nicholas Jividen, revealed there is some gray area in West Virginia's laws about where funerals for members of the military can be held.

Jividen is a Poca High School graduate, and that's where his family wanted to hold his funeral because they expected a large attendance.

But after confusion and lack of existing policy, that request was denied, leaving thousands to attend his service at a small funeral home.

In response, lawmakers stepped up to draft a bill to make sure something like this doesn't happen again.

Sen. Glenn Jeffries helped create Senate Bill 154, which ensures that funerals and memorial services can be held at school facilities for fallen soldiers,veterans, and first responders across the state

"If they are a fallen solider or a first responder, most of the time there are 500, 600, to a thousand people that attend those services, and most funeral homes can't accommodate something like that," Jeffries said.

Jividen's best friend, Austin Bird, says he is excited to watch his friend's memory live on, "My best friend had something to do with that. He had an impact on this state and this community. So his name is going to go on, and it is awesome to think that even after Nick is gone, he is still making a difference in this world."

The bill had its second reading in the Senate on Tuesday, and is expected to have its third reading on Wednesday. If passed, it will be sent to the House of Delegates.

The bill also ensures that the funeral and memorial services held at schools do not interrupt school events or class.


UPDATE: 11/20/18, 11:15 p.m.

Friends and family are still mourning the loss of Specialist Nick Jividen, 21, who was killed in a training exercise in California on Nov. 6.

Jividen was laid to rest at the Donel C. Kinnard Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Institute. His family sought to have his funeral at Poca High School, where he graduated in 2015, but their request was denied.

Austin Bird, Jividen's best friend, said, "There's two parts that we were told. The county was not comfortable with it and setting that precedent of having funerals at the school, and that, since it was Thanksgiving break, there would be no staff there to help support it."

However, Putnam County Superintendent John Hudson said in a statement his office was never contacted by Jividen's family.

"The school system highly respects and is most proud of those former students serving in the Armed Services and their devotion to our country," he said. "However, no existing policy exists that permits the superintendent to approve the use of a school facility for such function."

Putnam County Delegate Joshua Higginbotham and Sen. Glenn Jeffries reached out to Jividen's family to clear up the controversy and make sure this never happens again.

Jeffries said they will begin writing legislation tailored strictly to military issues like this one so that the situation doesn't arise again.

"Whether it be a minor inconvenience or not, I think we should set the precedent that we do whatever it takes to help the families of our fallen soldiers," Bird said.

Bird also said Jividen's family has also been contacted about Poca High School failing to lower the flag to half-staff. However, Bird said the family does not hold any grudges toward school staff and they understand it was just an oversight.


UPDATE: 11/15/2018, 11:50 p.m.

A flag-draped coffin containing the body of Specialist Nicholas “Nick” Caleb Jividen, 21, of Poca, WV, was met by family, friends and military members late Thursday night at Yeager Airport in Charleston.

Jividen died Nov. 6 in an accident during a military training exercise involving an armored vehicle at Fort Irwin in California.

Jividen was based in Crestview, Florida. He was a signal analyst to Headquarters Support Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

The young man graduated from Poca High School in 2015. His family members say Jividen "Jivi” loved to hunt, fish, play and watch football and golf. "He especially loved riding his Harley Davidson."

Funeral services for will be at 11 a.m., Monday, November 19 at Gatens-Harding Funeral Home.

The burial will be at Donel C. Kinnard Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Institute, West Virginia.

Visitation will be from 3 - 5 p.m., Sunday, November 18 at Gatens-Harding Funeral Home.


ORIGINAL STORY: 11/15/2018, 2:30 p.m.

U.S. Army Specialist Nicholas “Nick” Caleb Jividen, 21, from Poca, West Virginia, has died.

Jividen died Nov. 6 in an accident during a military training exercise involving an armored vehicle at Fort Irwin in California.

Jividen was based in Crestview, Florida. He was a signal analyst to Headquarters Support Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

Family members tell us it was supposed to be a short-term visit to Fort Irwin.

In fact, it was going to be Jividen's last day there before returning to Florida.

Instead, he passed away in Loma Linda, California.

Jividen was a signal analyst to Headquarters Support Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

"He was lucky and blessed to travel to multiple continents in his short time in the military," his obituary reads. "His services spanned the gamut of Combat Support in Syria and Kuwait (CJS0TF-OIR) to contingency operations in Chile as part of larger SOUTHCOM initiatives to combat illicit trafficking of Special Interest Aliens, narcotics and radicalization across the continent."

The young man graduated from Poca High School in 2015. His family members say Jividen "Jivi” loved to hunt, fish, play and watch football and golf. "He especially loved riding his Harley Davidson."

"Nick just couldn’t be tied down," the obituary goes on to say. "He always had to be going somewhere."

Funeral services for will be at 11 a.m., Monday, November 19 at Gatens-Harding Funeral Home.

The burial will be at Donel C. Kinnard Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Institute, West Virginia.

Visitation will be from 3 - 5 p.m., Sunday, November 18 at Gatens-Harding Funeral Home.