Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Military burials bring final dignity to homeless veterans

Military burials bring final dignity to homeless veterans
Stars and Stripes
Published: September 18, 2012

A veteran delivers the eulogy for a homeless Vietnam veteran who was buried last week with military honors through a charitable program. Three Gold Star Mothers look on in white. They go to the funerals to show support for the homeless veterans who normally die alone.

WICHITA, Kan. — He had nothing left to his name but his military service.

When the 64-year-old collapsed on the streets of this Midwestern city last month and soon died, he was homeless and alone — one of the 130,000 faceless veterans who go without shelter on any given night in this country.

Instead of being buried in a pauper’s grave — an ending that would have only reinforced his anonymous last years — the Vietnam veteran was again recognized as Army Sgt. Patrick Dunagan and honored with a military funeral.

Dunagan was laid to rest last week as part of a charitable effort called the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program. Funeral homes in 35 cities work to provide destitute veterans with proper funerals by donating the casket and other services, arranging the military ceremony and coordinating with the Department of Veteran Affairs to provide a headstone and burial at a national cemetery.
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