Full military burial honors are bestowed on service members who died while on active duty and veterans who were discharged under any category other than dishonorable. Full honors include a bugler to play "Taps," the military's retreat song, a firing party and a uniformed team of service members to carry the casket. Additionally, full honors include a military band, the attendance of a chaplain and an escort platoon to march the service member to his final resting place. You can prearrange for military honors to be rendered upon your own death by coordinating with the funeral director at the funeral home of your choice, or you may leave it as your next-of-kin's responsibility after you've passed away.
Things You'll Need
- Department of Defense Form 214 belonging to veteran.
Look at the service member's Department of Defense Form 214 to determine his eligibility. The DD-214 is the military's official discharge document. Block 24, labeled "Character of Service," denotes the conditions under which the service member was discharged. As long as Block 24 reads anything other than "Dishonorable," the deceased veteran is eligible to receive full military burial honors.
Contact the funeral director at the deceased service member's funeral home. Notify him that you wish to exercise the veteran's right to full military honors.
Provide the funeral director with the veteran's DD-214. If the service member passed away while serving on active duty, tell the funeral director to contact the Department of Mortuary Affairs in the service member's unit. Provide him with the appropriate contact information, which can be obtained through the service member's unit chaplain.
Call or visit the service member's unit chaplain if you have difficulty with the funeral director. Unit chaplains can act as liaisons and assist you in securing full military honors at your service member's burial. Contact a local military Department of Mortuary Affairs if you do not have ready access to a military chaplain. National Guard and Reserve units have the contact information for a local branch of Mortuary Affairs. However, most funeral directors are familiar with the process of obtaining full military honors, and you should not need to contact a chaplain or the Department of Mortuary Affairs.
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