It is a beautiful thing - the ability to truly honor a veteran who has served their country upon the event of their passing. The rendering of military funeral honors for a deceased veteran is a service that is mandated by law and provided free of charge to the eligible veteran's family. Military funeral honors can be requested by a family through their funeral director. From there, the funeral director will contact the appropriate military branch to arrange the funeral honors detail.
Of course, a family of a deceased veteran must first ensure that their loved one is eligible. In order to receive military honors, the deceased must be a member of one of the following: A military member on active duty or in the Selected Reserve; former military members who served on active duty and departed under conditions other than dishonorable; former military members who completed at least one term of enlistment or period of initial obligated service in the Selected Reserve and departed under conditions other than dishonorable; and former military members discharged from the Selected Reserve due to a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.
In order to verify eligibility for military honors, a family is required to fill out DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. This form is available online through the National Archives. However, if the form is not available, any discharge document showing anything other than dishonorable service can be used to begin the process.
The rendering of final honors to a departed military member is one of the most profound demonstrations of honor, respect, and gratitude that a soldier can bestow upon a fallen comrade. However, there is a process that must be followed in order to take advantage of this benefit. Here is what to expect when military honors are requested.
Federal law states that every eligible veteran must receive a military funeral honors ceremony, including the folding and presenting of the U.S. flag and the playing of Taps, should the family request it. These ceremonies must be requested in advance. Know that a veteran's family must request an American Flag as part of the presentation. To do this, complete an Application for U.S. Flag for Burial Purposes form and provide a copy along with the veteran's discharge papers. Additionally, a Presidential Memorial Certificate must be requested if it is wanted by the family. This is an engraved paper certificate signed by the current president and honors the memory of the deceased veteran. A family is able to apply for this at any VA regional office or by U.S. mail.
When you attend the service, a flag will be draped over the coffin, and if there is a chapel service, the flag will be pulled away from the head of the coffin so it can be open for viewing. Whether the service entails a gravesite visit or not, the honors will include a choice of service, military rifle salute, folding of the flag, presentation of the flag, and the playing of Taps.
If you are interested in learning more about military honors for your loved one, please contact one of our trusted funeral directors.
Proudly serving those who have served.