Planning a funeral is an emotional experience. You want to provide the most honorable way to remember your loved one, yet there are so many things to consider. If your loved one was a member of the United States Armed Forces then they may be eligible for Military Funeral Honors. Learn what this entails, who’s eligible, and how you can request it.

What’s involved in Military Funeral Honors

Eligible veterans can receive Military Funeral Honors free of charge. In fact, it’s mandated by law. Your veteran will receive an honor guard detail for their funeral. It will consist of no fewer than two members of the Armed Forces. One of these members will be a representative of whichever branch of the service your loved one was involved in.

While honor details can vary, at a minimum they will perform a ceremony which includes folding and presenting the American flag to their next of kin. This may be their spouse, child, parent, or other family member. During the folding and presenting process Taps will be played. When possible, it’ll be played by a bugler. However, if no bugler is available then an electronic recording of Taps will be played. The representative of the branch of the Armed Forces your loved one was involved in will present the flag.

Who’s eligible for Military Funeral Honors

Not everyone who’s served in the Armed Forces is eligible for this process. Generally speaking, those who were dishonorably discharged are not eligible. Those who are eligible include:

  • Active duty military members.
  • Active Selected Reserve members.
  • Previous military personnel who served active duty and left under non-dishonorable discharge.
  • Previous military personnel who finished at a minimum one term of enlistment or period of initial obligation in the Selected Reserve and who departed under non-dishonorable discharge conditions.
  • Previous military personnel who were discharged from the Selected Reserve as a result of a disability that occurred during the line of duty or was aggravated in the line of duty.

Proving your loved one is eligible

The easiest way to verify eligibility, and the preferred method, is to complete the DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. If said DD Form 214 isn’t accessible, then you can use any form or document that shows anything other than dishonorable discharge. However, you can also obtain a copy of the DD Form 214 online from the National Archives.

How to request Military Funeral Honors

If your loved one is eligible all you need to do is speak to your funeral director and provide the required documentation. The funeral director will then contact the correct branch of service to request honors. Remember that your funeral director is there to handle issues like these. While you can request it on your own, it’s best to go through the channels of an experienced director.