The Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates nearly 40,000 U.S. military veterans are homeless. When one in Missouri passed away recently, the community gathered to make sure he was given a true hero’s farewell.

John Beard was a Vietnam veteran who, by his own admission, faced struggles far outlasting the war.

“He had some demons in his life. Which he corrected,” said Richard Hogan, a friend who got to know Beard through his work with AMVETs. “He enrolled in the homeless program at the VA. He was at his wit’s end at that point.”

He was homeless for several years before finally seeking help from veterans’ groups.

Then came his terminal cancer diagnosis.

“We did whatever we could to give him some peace and ease and honor him so that he’s not alone during this time,” said Jacqueline Ingoldsby also of AMVETS.

And that wouldn’t end with his death. Dozens came out to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery to help lay him to rest.

“People responded marvelously,” Hogan said.

But they also say it’s far too common for veterans who are homeless to reject or refuse to seek help available to them. For more information on local resources or to volunteer, visit the department of veteran’s affairs.