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Search continues for missing veteran last seen on Christmas

By Ryan Pfeil | Mail Tribune, Medford, Ore. (Tribune News Service) | Published: January 6, 2016

A U.S. Air Force veteran who was staying at Veterans Affairs Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics has been missing since Christmas, and his family is asking the community surrounding the center to be on the lookout for him.

Jackson County Search & Rescue found 47-year-old Todd McFarland's truck Saturday eight miles up Wagner Creek Road outside Talent, stuck in the snow and abandoned. That's the last clue searchers say they have.

"We've done three searches since the truck was located, obviously with no luck," said sheriff's Sgt. Shawn Richards of search and rescue.

According to a Facebook group dedicated to finding McFarland and bringing him home, McFarland left the VA Dec. 25. His younger brother Scott said he had talked to him that morning. Scott said he had invited his brother over to celebrate the holiday, but McFarland declined as he was tired.

"That's the last we heard from him," Scott said. "The important thing is did anyone see him? Did anyone find him? Did anyone talk to him? Maybe he wandered down that road after finding his truck."

Richards said there's also a good chance someone came along and picked him up. Tracking dogs helping with the search have been thwarted by deep, recent snowfall that's still covering much of the terrain higher up.

"The biggest thing hindering us in this is a lot of snow," Richards said.

Scott said his brother grew up in Hugo and served in the National Guard after graduating from North Valley High. He eventually went into the U.S. Air Force, serving as an aircraft mechanic. After retiring from the military, he worked for a helicopter company. Scott said his brother ran into problems with alcoholism, which affected his health.

"As his health deteriorated, eventually he wound up at the VA," Scott said.

Scott works for a Grants Pass marketing company, At Your Pace Online, and the business has helped him get the word out.

"Once we realized how dire the situation was, we decided to start acting," said Scott's co-worker Tim Bell. "He could very well just be in town and out of contact."

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©2016 the Mail Tribune (Medford, Ore.)

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