KEITHVILLE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Dozens gathered Friday in Keithville to bid farewell to an Army veteran who died recently with no family members by his side.
Veterans, active servicemen, and members of the Patriot Guard were prepared to stand in place of family to honor Donald Dean, who risked his life for his country, serving three years in Vietnam.
After falling on hard times, he became homeless and sought help from the Homeless Veterans Program in 2008. He became a success story for the program, living independently for several years before his death with assistance from the program.
“We provide wrap-around services to help is quality of life,” said Linda Resendez, who works with veterans through the VA program.
Those who worked with Dean and became his friend knew his health was declining, but they say he preferred not to reach out to family while he was alive.
Following his death, they tried to reach Dean’s daughter, Bambi Carter, and were unable to make contact until just days before the funeral.
“A lady that cared for him reached out to me on Facebook,” Carter said.
And while she’s only met her father twice in her life, she found herself sitting in the front row at his funeral on Friday to receive his flag.
“I feel so special and I’m just so happy everyone was able to recognize my father and appreciate the service that he did for our country, and I’m overwhelmed and I feel so much love for him.”
For Carter, the service was a bittersweet moment that she will cherish for the rest of her life.
“I know that there are people who have a heart and can be there for everybody else in the community when nobody else can.”
His daughter says she’s grateful to know where his final resting place is and she plans to visit often.