NY National Guard lead thousands of military funeral services in 2021

Veterans Voices

Spc. Austin Dycha and Sgt. Nikole Clark, members of the New York National Guard Military Funeral Honors Team, drape the flag of the United States over the casket of U.S. Army Air Force Cpl. Raymond Kegler, at his funeral in Lackawanna, New York, May 14. Dycha and Clark wore cloth face masks as part of precautions being used during military funerals to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Army National Guard Photo by Capt. Avery Schneider)

LATHAM, N.Y. (WWTI) — In 2021, military honors were given to thousands of New York families. The New York National Guard confirmed that as of December 21, its Army and Air National Guard funeral honor guards had conducted 10,353 military funerals across the state.

Servicemembers who served on active duty, in the reserves, or who did not receive a dishonorable discharge are eligible by the 2000 federal law to receive a military funeral. At minimum, these honors are provided by a two-person team that plays taps with a bugle and folds and presents an American flag to the family. Military funeral honors are requested through the funeral home.

According to Honor Guard Officer-in-Charge 1st Leuitenant Melisa Rosario, demand for Army funeral services increased in 2021. Lt. Rosario said in over 350 instances, the New York Army National Guard teams had to inform the Army Casualty Assistance Centers that the active Army or Army Reserve would have to provide the services.

The New York Air National Guard’s honor guard teams conducted an additional 2,118 services in 2021, a 25% increase over the COVID restrictions of 2020. Overall, there are 211 New York National Guard military personnel, including 99 soldiers and 112 Airmen, who provide these honors either on a full- or part-time basis. Officials said that they anticipate conducting an additional 318 military funeral services by New Year’s Eve.

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