A Vietnam veteran from Mercedes is laid to rest today at the Rio Grande Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

Juan Diego Leal who was 67 years old, died homeless and without a dollar to his name.

His body was found lifeless in  an old shack behind a business with very little space let alone conveniences. Despite his living conditions people describe him as an optimist and a dreamer.

She says leal struggled for years trying to get disability benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs but was denied every time the lack of support is what led  leal to live on the street and over 20 years ago Armando Saldaña’s father found him in the cold sleeping under a tree.

Being a Veteran himself he let leal live in the shack free of cost.

This place is what neighbors say he described as his safe haven his fox hole almost as he had never left the war.

Hidalgo County Veterans services officer Felix Rodriguez says cases like this should never happen.

Leal’s family says he will forever be missed and loved for his valor and caring heart.