DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Thanks to volunteers and programs like the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program, many of the nearly 200,000 homeless war veterans who sleep on the street each night are not forgotten.
Ride Capt. Johnny Blase got the call last night, actually. He and the Patriot Guard were needed at the funeral of Clifton Bozarth.
The Air Force veteran would be buried at DFW National Cemetery with no family to honor his life.
“He was in the Air Force from 1957 to 1960 and had no family when he died,” Blase said.
But Bozarth did have a friend.
Verle Pilante befriended Bozarth three years ago when he saw the veteran standing alone near his home. He offered to pray for the stranger.
He said Bozarth smiled and told him, ‘Well I wish you hadn’t prayed for me.’
Soon thereafter, Pilante began driving his new friend to dialysis treatments three times a week. He took him to church each Sunday.
“This became a great event; every Sunday, standing out there smiling and ready to go to church,” Pilante said. “His life went from being very secluded to going around shaking hands with everyone. He became a good friend within the church.”
And so, too, at his burial, Clifton Bozarth was surrounded by friends. Some he’d met, some he never would, but all chose to ensure the homeless veteran was buried with the dignity he deserved.
“I counted 75 people here today who were dedicated in their allegiance to honor this man for his military service,” Pilante said.
The Diginity Memorial Program serves eligible homeless, indigent veterans with no family. Burial services and ceremonial honors are provided for free. For more information, call 1-800-DIGNITY or visit its website here.