Taking comfort in the rituals of grief is a way for families to come to terms with the loss of someone they loved. A military honors ceremony is one of the most touching funeral rites that you can ever witness. It can help you find closure on your loss through its familiar steps, as the nation expresses its final gratitude to the deceased. Learn what you need to know, in order to claim this final honor for someone who has served our nation.

Who Is Eligible For Military Funeral Honors?

In most cases, any man or woman who served in the military and was honorably discharged will be eligible to receive military funeral honors. There are three types of honor details:

  • Veteran Honors, for someone who served in the military but wasn't a military retiree. The ceremony will include the ceremonial folding and presentation of the flag, and the sounding of Taps.
  • Retiree Honors, for someone who either retired after a full military career, or who had to retire due to medical reasons. The ceremony will include the folding and presentation of the flag, a firing party, pall bearers, and the playing of Taps.
  • Full Honors, for someone who was on active duty when he or she died, was an officer, or who had received a Medal of Honor. The ceremony will include the folding and presentation of the flag, a full color guard, pall-bearers, chaplain, firing party and the playing of Taps.

How Do You Arrange For Military Funeral Honors?

Your funeral director will act on your behalf to coordinate the military honors ceremony with the appropriate military branch, so long as you request it. 

When you go to discuss funeral arrangements, take the deceased's DD214 (or NGB Form 22, if he or she was in the National Guard) with you, if you have it, so that the funeral director can easily verify your veteran's eligibility for the ceremony. 

What If You Cannot Obtain Proof Of Eligibility For Funeral Honors?

If you don't have access to the DD214 or NGB Form 22, take what information you do have with you to the funeral director. He or she will still contact the military and work to secure these final honors.

In the event that your veteran's eligibility for military funeral honors can't be established by the time of the funeral, the military funeral honors can be performed at a later date, in a separate ceremony.

What Will Military Funeral Honors Cost?

Military funeral honors are performed at no cost to the family of the deceased veteran. The flag used for the ceremony is also provided without cost.

Who Will Receive The Flag When It Is Presented?

Traditionally, the flag is presented to the deceased veteran's next of kin. If you wish to make other arrangements, please let your funeral director know so that he or she can fulfill your request.

Let your funeral director know as soon as possible that your loved one was a veteran, and that you are requesting military honors at the funeral. Your veteran earned the right to these honors through his or her willingness to sacrifice all for the United States. (For more information on veteran services, contact a funeral home such as Hartsell Funeral Home)