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Unclaimed Veteran's Remains Given Final Rest Place

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MCALLEN – A Rio Grande Valley veteran got an honorable burial two years after being put in a funeral home.

Air Force veteran Donald Kent was buried at the Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery Friday. No one was able to locate his family.

The family who took care of him said he used to live at a hotel. Carolina Ramos, manager at the old La Quinta in McAllen, said Kent had lived in room 116 for 10 years.

“He had a little electric scooter so he was known for that, and that he would just scooter down all over McAllen,” she said.

Ramos said Kent was moved to a hospital in 2015. She said his caretakers weren’t allowed to find out what caused his death.

Those same caretakers later learned no one had claimed his remains, so they reached out to the Hidalgo County Veterans Services and the Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery for help.

“Upon getting, gathering as much information from her and from the funeral home we were able to establish he was a veteran so we could proceed with a burial,” Mary Hernandez, director at the veteran cemetery, said.

Army veteran Aaron Morales is one of many who decided to show his respects. 

“We all came from different walks of life, you know, different corners, the country and different regions. You set all that aside when you start being there for your brother,” he said.

A total of six unaccompanied veterans are buried at the cemetery. Hernandez said they still hope their family members will one day come forward.

We also learned veterans, spouses and eligible dependent children are eligible to be buried free of charge in a veteran’s cemetery.

The average costs of a non-veteran family’s funeral can be up to $10,000. 

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