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Funeral Entitlements for Veterans

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There is a lot of confusion about what military funeral honors veterans are entitled to after they pass away. The honors provided by the military will depend on upon how long the veteran served, what component they served in (active duty, Guard, or Reserve), and whether they retired from the military, left the military before retirement, or were killed in action while actively serving in the military. Some honors provided may also depend upon the individual's rank. Caissons and fighter aircraft flyovers are reserved for actively-serving military members. However, most military members and veterans may be eligible for the following honors at their funeral as long as they left the military with an honorable discharge.

Flag-Folding Ceremony

Every veteran and military member, regardless of branch, component, or status is entitled to a flag fold at minimum. This flag fold will be performed by a flag-folding team with at least two members. If time and mission requirements permit, up to seven members can serve on the flag-folding team (one Officer in Charge or one Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge, plus six members to fold the flag). 

Bugle Player or Recorded Sounding of "Taps"

All members are also entitled to a sounding of "Taps" at their funeral service. If time and mission requirements permit, a live bugler will be provided if possible. Sometimes this is not feasible due to a high operations tempo for the Honor Guard or Color Guard. In this case, a military member will be given a brass bugle with an electronic insert that will sound "Taps." 

Firing Party

A firing party comprised of seven military members may be provided to perform at certain individuals' funerals. These individuals are generally limited to Medal of Honor recipients, military members killed in combat, general officers, and enlisted members in the rank of E-9. Similar to the flag-folding party, this team will be comprised of one Officer in Charge or one Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge, plus six members to fire the rifles. 

When possible, funeral honors will be provided by an Honor Guard or Color Guard from an active-duty, Reserve, or Guard unit. There is never a charge for these services. In areas with a high demand for military funeral honors, military Honor Guards and Color Guards welcome the assistance of Color Guards from service organizations such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), AMVETS, and the Disabled American Veterans (DAV). Bugles Across America (BAA) also provides live bugle players to sound "Taps" at veterans' funerals whenever possible, free of charge. 

For more information about veterans' funeral packages and how they relate to the rest of the funeral arrangements, consult your funeral home.