State restores funding for military funeral honors

Hartford — Veterans in the state will once again be honored with a three-volley salute when buried.

Funding for the Honor Guard detail that performs the salute was one of many cuts made while the state was without a budget for 123 days. Members of the Honor Guard detail are paid a $50-a-day stipend and usually attend 3,500 military funerals a year.

The funding was restored under the  two-year, $41.3 billion state budget bill signed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Oct. 31.

Family members of veterans decried the cuts, saying their loved ones were being denied what was owed to them. In the meantime, some veterans groups such as the American Legion stepped up, volunteering to render the salute.

When Dave Huber of Mystic buried his father, Paul, a World War II veteran, in August, there was no salute despite his father's request, and Huber later told The Day that the family felt something was missing.

"I'm thrilled that the veterans are going to get the full funeral honors, and everything they deserve," Huber said by phone Friday. "I wish my father had that, but I'm so glad it's been reinstated."

When they die, veterans are entitled to have the melancholy bugle call known as "taps" played at their funeral, and their next of kin are presented with a folded up American flag. Additional honors such as a rifle volley are contingent on available resources.

The three-volley salute is an old military custom that allowed for the clearing of dead during battle. Battles would temporarily stop so the dead could be cleared, and the firing of three volleys signified they had been removed and the battle could continue.

A past proposal in the General Assembly would have mandated that the state provide for the three-party firing detail. The measure, which was supported by several veterans groups, didn't pass.

The funding has been on the chopping block before. It was cut as part of Malloy's fiscal year 2016 budget proposal but was later restored by state legislators.

j.bergman@theday.com

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