Upon the family's request, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-65) requires that every eligible Veteran receive a military funeral honors ceremony, to include folding and presenting the United States flag and the playing of Taps, provided by two or more uniformed military persons, with at least one being a member of the Veteran's parent service of the armed forces. The ceremony is provided at no cost to the family.
The program is designed to have funeral directors request military funeral honors on behalf of a veteran's family. All branches of the armed forces provide these honors. Veterans' service organizations (VSOs) may assist in providing military funeral honors, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) National Cemetery Administration staff can also assist with arranging military funeral honors at VA national cemeteries. (Note: All military funeral honors need to be arranged prior to the committal service.) Besides the Federal and State military personnel, there are civilians in several agencies (the Veterans Administration, the Division of Military and Naval Affairs, etc.) who are dedicated to assisting funeral directors to ensure our veterans receive the funeral honors to which they are entitled.
KNOWING HOW TO HELP FAMILIES WHO REQUEST MILITARY FUNERAL HONORS
- The funeral director will act on behalf of a family to coordinate and schedule the appropriate military honors ceremony.
- Military funeral honors are provided at no cost to the family.
- The military services request a minimum of 48-hours notice, if possible, to perform the funeral honors service. However, funeral directors are encouraged to make a request regardless of time-frame.
- All faxed requests for military funeral honors should be followed-up with a phone call to verify receipt of the request.
- Funeral directors are urged to inform the honor guard personnel if you have also coordinated the involvement and participation of a Veterans' Service Organization (VSO).
- Careful communication and proper coordination between funeral directors and the honor guard are key to providing a respectful ceremony for our nation's veterans.
Q: WHAT DOES A MILITARY FUNERAL HONORS CEREMONY ENTAIL?
A: Military funeral honors are provided upon the family's request. A funeral honors ceremony will, at a minimum, include the ceremonial folding and presentation of the American flag to the veteran's family and the playing of Taps. Certain honors ceremonies may involve a firing party along with casket bearers and a color guard team. There are three types of honors details:
- VETERAN HONORS are provided for someone who served, but did not retire from military service; ceremony consists of a 2-3 person team including the ceremonial folding and presentation of the flag and the sounding of Taps.
- RETIREE HONORS are provided for someone who served 20 or more years, or medically retired; ceremony consists of a 7-10 person team including a chaplain (when requested, and if available), pall-bearers, firing party, the ceremonial folding and presentation of the flag and playing of Taps.
- FULL HONORS are provided for veterans on active duty, Medal of Honor recipients, and General Officers. This type of ceremony consists of a team of 21 including a chaplain, pall-bearers, color guard, firing party, the ceremonial folding and presentation of the flag and playing of Taps.
Q: HOW DOES A MILITARY FUNERAL WORK? WHAT CAN I EXPECT?
A: Once a request for military funeral honors has been accepted and scheduled, the Funeral Honors Coordinator will contact the funeral home to verify logistical information regarding the service (such as the date, time, and location) to ensure a smooth ceremony. Funeral directors are asked to discuss a family's special requests before the honor guard arrives at the ceremony.
The funeral honors detail will arrive approximately one hour prior to the ceremony and will inspect the area to ensure the honors are performed with utmost respect and dignity. The honor guard will coordinate with the funeral director and clergy to ensure the service is conducted with solemnity.
When the honors ceremony is performed, it is proper for funeral directors to stand and place your hand over your heart as Taps is sounded. At the conclusion of Taps, the flag is folded and presented to the next of kin on "behalf of a grateful nation."
Q: WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE MILITARY HONORS?
A: Military members in the following categories are eligible for military funeral honors: military personnel on active duty; former members who served on active duty and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable (as described below); members of the Selected Reserve and National Guard 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 and National Guard who were discharged due to a service-related disability.
Q: WHO IS INELIGIBLE FOR MILITARY FUNERAL HONORS?
A: Veterans are ineligible if they have been convicted of federal or state capital offenses and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole or receive the death penalty. They are also ineligible if they were discharged from the military under dishonorable conditions, which includes dishonorable discharge, bad conduct discharge, dismissal from the service by court-martial, other than honorable conditions discharge, and for officers, resignation for the good of the service in lieu of courts-martial, which results in a discharge characterization of other than honorable conditions.
Q: WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING THE ARRANGEMENTS FOR HONORS TO BE PERFORMED?
A: Honors are not performed automatically; they must be requested. Families of eligible veterans must request funeral honors through their funeral director. The funeral director then contacts the appropriate military service to request and coordinate the funeral honors detail.
Q: WHO SHOULD I GET TO PERFORM THE HONORS?
A: This will depend on the family's wishes and/or your geographic proximity to the nearest military unit/installation. Ideally, the parent service should be contacted to perform the honors (Army Honor Guard for Army veterans, Air Force Honor Guard for Air Force veterans, etc). Other branches may perform honors if the parent branch of the veteran is not available. Additionally, funeral honors details may be augmented with volunteers who are military veterans and who are members of veterans' service organizations, such as the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, or other appropriate organizations. The Authorized Provider Partnership Program (AP3) was established to provide training for these volunteers to ensure a standardized quality of the honors performed. These volunteers may complement a military funeral honors detail by providing additional elements of honors such as a firing party, pallbearers, buglers, or color guard. However, the United States Code requires that funeral honors for veterans be performed by at least two members of the Armed Forces, at least one of which is a member of the armed force of which the veteran was a member. Therefore, every attempt will be made at Adams Funeral Home to contact the military for honors .