CANTON, Ga. (WXIA) -- An Army veteran who died without a home or family has been spared a pauper's funeral.
Former Army medic Wendell Doughty, who passed away surrounded by strangers, will receive a full military service thanks to an organization that cares for homeless veterans.
"It does make you sad," said Greg Free, a Marietta funeral home director. "You never want to believe anybody feels like they've been forgotten. That's what this man must have felt, like he was forgotten."
Doughty was one of the 150,000 military veterans nationwide who end up living on the streets. He had no wife or children. Those who got to know him as he neared death could find no next-of-kin, not even a photograph of the 50-year-old in his military uniform. He lived his last days in hospice care.
"He was facing being buried in a pauper's grave or a city grave," said Free. "With him being a vet, we wanted to make sure that didn't happen."
Greg Free is also a veteran and the head of metro Atlanta's Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program.
The organization is relatively new to the area. Doughty is the third homeless veteran in Metro Atlanta the group has rescued from a lonely burial.
Instead of a pauper's grave, Dignity Memorial has arranged a full military service with all the honors. Free and others are arraigning it so Doughty can be buried in an Army uniform with the medals he earned during his military service.
The organization turned to the Department of Veterans Affairs for a plot at Georgia National Cemetery.
"We want an honorable burial, a dignified service befitting someone who served their country," said Free "He deserves that and we want to make sure he gets that."
Services will include the playing of Taps and the folding of the American flag. Because Doughty has no family, the flag will be presented to a representative of the Gold Star Mothers.
The funeral will be Tuesday, April 10, at 11:30 a.m., at Georgia National Cemetery, 1080 Veterans Cemetery Road in Canton.