A new South Carolina law ensures that all military veterans will receive a military funeral with full honors.
The new law allows coroners or funeral directors with unclaimed remains to release the deceased’s information to military groups to find out if he was a veteran who served honorably and has earned the right to be buried with full military honors.
John Rieser, an army veteran from Conway, S.C., passed away about three years ago without any family to claim his remains. He was an only child and his parents had already died. When a veteran passes away it is up to the family to request a military funeral.
Rieser’s co-workers said that there was a good chance that he was a veteran. Robert Edge, the county’s coroner, wanted to find out if he was and give him full honors, but he didn’t know where to turn.
Two American Legion members, Larry Truax and John Bianchi, came to the rescue. They pushed the bill this year through the South Carolina legislature. They saw that their native state of New York had passed a similar law and decided that South Carolina needed one as well.
Rieser’s grave will be marked with a headstone that has his name, dates of birth and death, his service branch, rank and dates of service.
What the veteran’s family can expect at the ceremony:
Funeral home directors request military funeral honors on behalf of the Veterans’ family from the DOD. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Cemetery Administration cemetery staff can also assist with arranging military funeral honors at VA national cemeteries. Veterans organizations are allowed to assist in providing military funeral honors. If the family wishes the funeral to take place at a national cemetery, the funeral home arranges it prior to the committal date.
Those eligible for military funeral honors are:
The DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, is used to show eligibility. If it’s not available, any discharge document showing other than dishonorable service can be used. The DD Form 214 can be requested by filling out a Standard Form 180 and mailing it to:
National Personnel Records Center (NPRC)
9700 Page Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63132
The Standard Form 180 may be obtained from the National Archives.