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V.A. suspends honor guard taking part in veterans' funerals during the outbreak

COVID-19 is halting the typical service a veteran would receive at their funeral. The funeral can take place at a national cemetery but without rendering of honors.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — It is our country’s final farewell to our military heroes. An honor guard 21-gun salute along with the playing of “Taps” by military bugle.

That time-honored tradition of thanks will be on hold for a while during the coronavirus pandemic. That means no military honor guard will be present when a veteran is buried at a Department of Veterans Affairs cemetery. 

“We are not able to have the help of the Defense Department with two representatives from the branch of the military they served,” said Gregory Whitney with the National Cemetery Administration.

Starting on March 23 the Veteran’s Administration announced the decision to suspend the “traditional” service. The agency has since sent out two news releases about the decision: “As a matter of public health and safety, committal services and the rendering of military funeral honors, whether by military personnel or volunteer organizations, will be suspended until further notice at VA national cemeteries.”

A few days later a second statement went out: All Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemeteries are open and will continue to provide internments for Veterans and eligible individuals. Effective March 23, 2020, as a matter of public health and safety, committal services and the rendering of military honors will not be conducted until further notice at VA national cemeteries.

Internments will also be limited to 10 family members, “With so much stuff happening and the guidance from the CDC is so fluid, there are things changing all the time and we just want to do the best thing we can to protect our families and our employees,” said Whitney

At this time, it is not clear how long the policy will remain in place. The VA is however committed to scheduling a committal or memorial service later, “All veterans that have taken the time to try and defend our country deserve (military service),” said Steve Morgan.

On March 29, 2020, Steve Morgan lost his father Army Sgt. Robert Morgan Jr, “He was a humble person born and raised on a farm, he got called to duty as a 19-year-old,” said Morgan.

The family did have a service for Sgt. Robert Morgan and plan to have another one with military honors once the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

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FACTS NOT FEAR

Remember facts, not fear when talking about the coronavirus. You should take the same measures recommended by health leaders to prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses. That means washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, and covering coughs and sneezes.

RELATED: Facts Not Fear | What you need to know about the COVID-19 outbreak

WHERE YOU GET INFORMATION ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS IS IMPORTANT

It is important to make sure the information you are getting about the coronavirus is coming directly from reliable sources like the CDC and NCDHHS. Be careful not to spread misinformation about coronavirus on social media.

For more information visit the CDC OR NCDHHS

NC CORONAVIRUS HOTLINE 

The state also has a special hotline set up where you can call 2-1-1 or 866-462-3821 for more information on the coronavirus. You can also submit questions online at ncpoisoncontrol.org or select chat to talk with someone about the virus.

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