Providing military funeral honors for Wisconsin veterans
Frequently Asked Questions
How to Request Military Funeral Honors in Wisconsin
Background | Mission | Facts | Types of Honors | Eligibility
Training/Assistance for VSOs | Stipend Reimbursement | Links | Contact | Forms
The Military Funeral Honors Program (MFHP) in Wisconsin provides a final tribute to the men and women who served our state and nation honorably as members of the U.S. armed forces. It allows a grateful nation to pay its last respects in a dignified and solemn ceremony.
The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) administers the program with assistance from veterans' service organizations, County Veterans Service Officers (CVSOs), funeral directors and the active and reserve components of the U.S. armed forces.
National: On January 1, 2000, Military Funeral Honors became a statutory benefit to all veterans with the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act. The law requires that, upon the family's request, every eligible veteran is entitled to receive a military funeral honors ceremony to include folding, presentation of the United States burial flag and the sounding of taps, at no cost to the family.
Wisconsin: On May 9, 2000, the governor signed into law a bill that directed WDVA to administer a Military Funeral Honors Program using local units of member organizations of the Council on Veterans Programs and members of the Wisconsin National Guard. As part of this bill, the WDVA was authorized to establish honor guard teams, which are currently located at the Central Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery–King, Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery–Union Grove, and Northern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery–Spooner.
To provide and coordinate the final tribute to eligible Wisconsin veterans acknowledging their faithful and honorable service to the State of Wisconsin and the Nation. The WDVA MFHP is designed to complement and augment existing federal and local programs that provide this solemn and dignified ceremony to honor a deceased veteran at the time of burial. The MFHP is committed to serving veterans and their families. The MFHP ensures all agencies are coordinated in their efforts and those honors are conducted with dignity and respect and meet an acceptable military standard.
WBAY Action News reports on WDVA's Military Funeral Honors program
- Over 448,000 veterans live in Wisconsin; 40% live in southeast Wisconsin.
- 12,000 Wisconsin veteran's deaths are projected each year between 2008 and 2012, nearly twice as many as 15 years ago.
- Wisconsin is one of nine states that have created a Military Funeral Honors Program with full-time employees to conduct and assist with providing honors.
- The WDVA MFHP coordinates honors with seven military casualty assistance centers throughout the country, 16 different military organizations with over 500 units, seven different Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) with over 1,300 posts and two funeral associations with 600 funeral homes.
Funeral Honors consist of the folding and/or presentation of a burial flag and the sounding of taps. Any of which can be rendered, depending on the families wishes.
- The minimum number of personnel who will respond to a request for honors will be two uniformed service representatives. Section 578 of Public Law 106-65 entitles eligible veterans to have a detail consisting of two or more uniformed military personnel present for military funeral honors. At least one of these representatives will be from the branch of service of the deceased. These two representatives will sound Taps, fold and present the U.S. flag to the next of kin.
- If requested and available, the MFHP at no cost to the family of a veteran will arrange for a firing detail consisting of a minimum of three individuals who will fire three rifle volleys. This rifle detail may consist of MFHP team members, VSOs or other military organizations. It is appropriate to have multiple organizations present at the same service to render honors.
- If requested and available, the MFHP will arrange for a bugler. Due to a shortage of buglers, Taps is normally sounded with the aid of an electronic bugle provided by the military service providing honors.
- Funeral directors are requested to ask the question to the family if they would like military representation and/or local VSO support for honors to be provided. If a family requests military representation and/or a VSO cannot provide the support requested, the honors should be coordinated through the MFHP.
Veterans are eligible for military honors at their funeral if they meet one of the following requirements:
- Died while serving on active duty or in the Selected Reserve (drilling with a unit).
- Discharged from active duty under conditions "other than dishonorable."
- Completed at least one term of enlistment or period of initial obligated service in the Selected Reserve under conditions "other than dishonorable."
- Discharged from the Selected Reserve due to a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.
- Under Dishonorable Conditions. For the purposes of determining eligibility for Military Funeral Honors under 10 U.S.C., individuals who have at any time been discharged or released from military service with any of the following characterizations of service or under any of the following circumstances, shall be considered to have been discharged or released under dishonorable conditions, and Military Funeral Honors shall not be provided:
- A Dishonorable Discharge.
- A Bad Conduct Discharge.
- A Dismissal from the Service awarded by courts-martial.
- An Under Other Than Honorable Conditions Discharge.
- An Officer Resignation for the Good of the Service in Lieu of courts-martial, which results in a discharge characterization of Under Other Than Honorable Conditions.
Family members of the deceased veteran should first notify their funeral director of their desire to have military funeral honors rendered. (There is no cost to the veteran's family to have military funeral honors provided by WDVA or the military.) The family should provide the funeral director with the following information, if available:
- Name of deceased, date of birth and Social Security number.
- A form DD-214 (discharge document), or any other proof of veteran status or eligibility for burial honors.
- Branch of service and type of service (active, reserve, National Guard, retired).
The funeral director or a family member, if not using a funeral director, should then complete and submit a form WDVA 2800, Military Funeral Honors Request, to the Honors Coordinators via the fax number below. The veteran's discharge documents should be submitted along with the form WDVA 2800:
Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs
Attn: Military Funeral Honors Program
21731 Spring St.
Union Grove, WI 53182
Phone: (262) 878-5673
Toll Free Phone: (877) 944-6667
Fax: (262) 878-5677
Toll Free Fax: (866) 454-0356
In addition to coordinating military honors for veterans' interments, the WDVA MFHP can assist with the following:
- Funeral Honors Training/Certification – VSOs that desire training for their honors team members should contact the Military Funeral Honors Program at 1-877-944-6667 (toll free).
Veterans groups who complete the certification program will not only gain updated procedures and information on conducting honors, but will also be certified if their organization desires to apply for the reimbursement of honors. Upon completion of the certification, the VSO and individual members of the honor teams will receive a certificate and funeral honors lapel pin. For details about the training program see these items: Training Information/Criteria, Certificate, Lapel Pin.
- Assistance at Funerals – Each WDVA funeral honors office can augment or complement a VSO by providing trained staff in military uniform for the folding of the flag and/or the rifle volley. The program can also assist if a family requests an active-duty service member or a member of a particular branch of service.
- Bugler Assistance – The MFHP has a pool of military buglers, Bugles Across America (BAA), members and other volunteers. When the MFHP cannot locate a military bugler coordination is then made with BAA and other volunteers to sound TAPS or use the electronic bugle. If you would like to volunteer to sound TAPS, contact the MFHP or BAA. For more information on BAA, see the Bugles Across America.org—Wisconsin flyer.
- Blank Ammunition/M-1 Clips – VSOs may request and receive free .30-caliber blank ammunition. For more information, see Ammunition Information.
- Applications for Free Ceremonial Rifles – The Army provides ceremonial rifles and shipping at no charge to VSOs that apply through their national headquarters. See Information for Turn-in/Issue of Rifles for more information.
For more information, contact the WDVA MFHP office at 1-877-944-6667 (toll free) or email email@example.com.
Veterans groups that perform honors are eligible under the state program to recieve a stipend of up to $50 for expenses incurred while performing honors. To be eligible to receive the stipend:
- The VSO must be a member of the Council on Veterans Programs or sponsored by one of its members. (For joint county or area groups a local individual post designation is needed.)
- The VSO must have completed and returned a W-9 form (Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) Verification) to WDVA.
- The VSO must have participated in an honors training event and have been certified by WDVA to participate in the Stipend Program.
- The VSO must not receive any honorarium, donation or ask for payment from the funeral home or family for the honors they are requesting a stipend for.
- For honors that are not coordinated by the MFHP the VSO is required to submit a form WDVA 2801, Military Funeral Honors Stipend Reimbursement Request, which will verify that the veterans group, post or chapter has performed honors on a given date. It is requested that forms be submitted to the MFHP office as soon after honors are performed as possible. All WDVA 2801 forms must be received within 90 days of the service. Failure to submit the WDVA 2801 within 90 days will result in non-payment. Forms should be mailed to the address listed on the form or faxed toll-free to 1-866-454-0356.
- For honors that are coordinated by the MFHP (veterans organization participates with a military unit), there is no requirement to submit paperwork for the reimbursement. Upon the coordination of honors, the MFH Program will automatically submit the veterans group for the stipend. When the MFHP coordinates the honors and a veterans organization participates with the Wisconsin Army National Guard in performing the honors, the reimbursement for those honors will be $50.00. The MFHP is required by statute to first use any federal funds prior to using program funds.
- The VSO is responsible for obtaining both signatures and submitting the WDVA 2801 form, not the funeral director.
- The VSO must list on the WDVA 2801 form the post name and number that is shown on the W9 form, not the association or group the post is part of.
- For additional information, contact the MFHP office at 1-877-944-6667 (toll free) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs