A military funeral is a service filled with honor and tradition, an important act of reverence for the men and women who dedicated themselves to serving their country. Families of veterans and military retirees can request a military funeral to honor a loved one’s sacrifice.
A number of options are available, largely dependent on the number of years a person served in the military and whether he or she was killed in action.
- Those who serviced 20 years and retired from active duty receive modified full honors, which includes seven to nine soldiers, often provided locally by the S.C. National Guard. Those soldiers serve as pallbearers, a bugler to play “Taps” and the rifle team. They also fold the American flag and present it to the family.
- Anyone serving fewer than 20 years who did not retire can receive two or three soldiers who will play “Taps” as well as fold and present the American flag.
- A serviceman or women killed in action would have 21 soldiers to perform official duties and full honors at the funeral service.
Veterans may be buried at a private cemetery or at one of the 131 national cemeteries if space is available. Benefits at a national cemetery include opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a government headstone or marker, a burial flag and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family. Cremated remains are buried or inurned in national cemeteries in the same manner and with the same honors as casketed remains.
South Carolina has three national cemeteries: Beaufort National Cemetery, Florence National Cemetery and Fort Jackson National Cemetery in Columbia.
Those buried at a private cemetery receive a government headstone or marker, a burial flag and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family.
In addition, if a veteran’s death is service-related, the Department of Veterans Affairs will pay a burial allowance up to $2,000 as well as covering the cost of transporting the remains to the national cemetery nearest the home of the deceased that has available gravesites.
Families need the discharge papers, known as a DD214 form, to confirm eligibility for a military service. Then they can work with funeral home professionals to ensure they are receiving all the appropriate benefits and to plan a tribute that honors their loved one’s service to the country.
A benefit of working with an experienced Charleston area funeral home like Stuhr Funeral Home is that the professionals there can assist families in applying for the Presidential Memorial Certificate and burial flag as well as arranging the military burial. Stuhr also will fly the flag of the deceased’s branch of service at the gravesite as another personal touch to honor a veteran’s service.
“I appreciate the sacrifices by veterans and people that have committed to wars – from the first World War, the second World War, Vietnam War or other wars the country has been involved in,” said 1st Sgt. Lt. George Hampton of the S.C. National Guard. “I’m doing my part to give them the opportunity and respect they deserve as being servicemen.”
By: H. A. Fisher