Does Your Family Member Qualify For Military Honors At Their Funeral?

If you have a family member who is a veteran and has passed away, you may not realize that they may qualify to have a military honors funeral. Many people think that those funerals are only for people who were on active service at the time of their death, but any veteran may qualify for the funeral. What do you need to do to find out if your loved one qualifies?

Qualifying Vet

In order to qualify for a military honors funeral, your loved one must have been on active service, in the reserves, served one enlistment period in the reserves, or left the military due to disability. Your loved one must have left the military under circumstances other than dishonorable discharge. If they were dishonorably discharged, that is an automatic disqualification. You will also need to provide proof that your loved one was in the military and how they left. Generally, that means that you will need to submit their DD214, which is the Certificate of Release of Discharge From Active Service. If you don't have a copy, the funeral home can help you get one from the National Archive. You may also be able to use other discharge papers if you have them. 

Contacting the Appropriate Service

While you can contact the appropriate service on your own, you can also ask the funeral home director to do it as well. That may be easier for you, since they will have contacts in the appropriate office for each service, and will be able to get everything rolling quickly. You may also contact the VFW or American Legion as well. 

Honors to Expect

While there are some set military honors to expect, such as an honor guard, flag and flag folding ceremony, you may also get some additional honors. For example, your loved one may be able to have an honor guard set as a vigil watch over them during the viewing or visitation. While this may happen with any branch of the military service, you are more likely to see it if your family member was a Marine, especially if they had been on current active duty. That tends to come from the no one left behind belief that is strongly held in the Marine Corps. You may also be able to ask for a gun salute. If you want a bugler to play Taps, your best bet will be one of the veterans' groups or a local school.

If your loved one honorably served in the military, they may qualify for military honors at their funeral. Contact establishments like Hartsell Funeral Home for more information.