The rendering of Military Funeral Honors is a ceremony representing the Nation’s deep gratitude to those, in times of war and peace, who have faithfully defended our country. This ceremonial paying of respect is the final demonstration a grateful nation can provide to our veteran’s family.
Every veteran; Soldier, Marine, Sailor, Airman, and Coast Guardsman are entitled to their proper Military Funeral Honors performed by uniformed members of the Armed Forces.
Military members in the following categories are eligible for military funeral honors: military personnel on active duty; former military members who served on active duty and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable; members of the Selected Reserve; former members of the Selected Reserve who served at least one term of enlistment or period of initial obligated service and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable; and former members of the Selected Reserve who were discharged due to a service related disability.
The preferred method for verifying eligibility is the DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. If the DD Form 214 is not available, any discharge document showing other than dishonorable service can be used. Members of the Selected Reserve may not have a DD 214 unless they were mobilized under federal orders. A service member’s DD 214 may be obtained by sending a request to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO.
Families of eligible veterans may request funeral honors through their local funeral director. The funeral director will contact the appropriate Military Service to arrange for the funeral honors detail. For families that are not using a funeral director, contact the appropriate Military Service Coordinator.
Military units will provide, at a minimum, a two-person detail to present the core elements of the Funeral Honors Ceremony. These elements include the playing of Taps, the folding of a burial flag and the flag presentation. Under certain circumstances a rifle detail and pallbearers may be provided.
The Army National Guard is the only military component that regularly renders honors to all branches of service. They are frequently accompanied by honor guards and rifle parties from local Veteran’s Service Organizations such as the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. Different organizations and posts provide services based on the availability of their members and equipment.