August 8, 2022

Honoring Our Military Service Members: Preparing and Planning for a Military Funeral

The dedication, hard work, and bravery that members of our military display in order to provide American citizens with the privileges and freedoms we are able to enjoy shouldn’t go unnoticed. Because of the sacrifices that these men and women have made in order to keep us safe, we honor them with a military funeral when they pass.

A military funeral is a somber and dignified occasion. When compared to a more traditional funeral, many would testify that a service honoring a member of the military is far more formal of an occasion. When you lose a loved one that has fought and served our country,  you will want to give them a send-off that is befitting of their service.

This can seem like a daunting task, but with a little planning and some help from your funeral home, you can give your loved one the military funeral they deserve.

Preparing For A Military Funeral

 The family of the deceased will work with a funeral home to arrange all the details of the service, which will usually be held at a local church or cemetery.

When a member of the military is separated, discharged, or retires from one of its branches, they are given a DD Form 214. This form is used to verify that a person who has served in the military is eligible for veteran benefits. A funeral home must obtain this form in order to include funeral honors in a military funeral.


In order to be eligible for military funeral honors, there are a few requirements that must be met.

  • Former military members who served and departed under conditions other than dishonorable
  • A Former military member who completed at least one term of enlistment or period of service and departed under conditions other than dishonorable.
  • Military members who incurred injury, disability, or death while on active duty.

Standard Military Honors

The standard military honors for eligible veterans include the following:

  • A casket team
  • A firing party
  • A bugler

Depending on the branch of armed service and their NCO grade, some may use a caisson for service members which is a wagon driven by a team of six horses.

Full Military Honors

Full military honors are reserved for all service members killed in action, medal of honor recipients, general officers (O7 and above), and sergeant major (E9). A full military honors includes the standard military honors as well as:

  • An escort platoon (size varying according to the rank of the deceased)
  • A colors team
  • A caisson
  • A military band


Similar to a traditional funeral, etiquette rules and expectations are a part of attending a military funeral. The rules of etiquette can differ depending on if you’re civilian or military personnel. It’s important to understand the seriousness of this event, just like a traditional memorial service.

Saluting is a sign of respect to former and active military personnel. During the funeral, there are certain times they will be expected to stand and salute. Some of these times may include:

  • When the hearse passes by
  • Any time the casket/ urn is moved
  • During the playing of “Taps”
  • During a rifle salute
  • While the casket is being lowered into the ground
  • During the folding and receiving of the flag

During these times, civilians are encouraged to remove their hats if they are wearing any and place it or their hand over their heart.


Just like you would at any other funeral, unless specified, it’s important to dress in formal attire. Casual clothing is usually considered disrespectful so it’s advised to avoid clothing like jeans, t-shirts, or shorts. Men and women should stick to dark formal wear like slacks, dresses, suits, and blouses.

Active and former military members should be dressed in their service dress uniform or Class-A uniform.

A military funeral is an occasion meant to honor the life of a fallen service member and the last show of respect by his country, fellow service members, and his loved ones. It is important to show respect for the deceased and their family during this time.


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