Vets in MN may be laid to rest without military honor

Members of a Duluth military honor guard says the government is nickel and diming the funerals of veterans.

According to the Duluth News Tribune, the federal government is cutting funding to the Minnesota National Guard’s Military Funeral Honors program, which follows the armed services code by providing two military members as an honor guard at funerals.

“It’s nothing short of contemptuous for the federal government to deny us this funding,” Honor Guard Capt. John Marshall said.

The MFH program supported 4,911 funerals across the state during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. The funding cut means the program will be able to support only about 3,000 funerals this fiscal year, with the emphasis on funerals at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, the state veterans’ cemetery at Camp Ripley, and a second state cemetery under construction near Preston, Minn.

“I am going to do my best to cover everything else I can in the state but it is just not going to be possible,” Minnesota Military Funeral Honors State Coordinator Maj. (retired) Bastian “Chris” Vanhofwegen said.

How much are we talking about? Fifty dollars per funeral.

  • Robert Moffitt

    Well, that sucks. I wonder what kind of a service I will get, when I get put in the ground at Ft. Snelling?

  • davehoug

    Risk your life to keep us safe…..but don’t ask us to honor the end of your life…..SHEESH

    • …or even take care of Vets when they come back wounded…

  • Jack Ungerleider

    This isn’t even nickels or dimes, its pennies. Based on the last fact of the story, a cost of $50 per funeral, it appears that the funding has dropped to $150,000/year for this task. (Assumes that all the budgeted money goes to cover the $50 cost per funeral for 3000 funerals.) Last year they did approximately 2000 more funerals at an additional cost of $100,000. Assuming 65% of the Minnesota population are actual taxpayers based on the current census estimate that comes to about 3.5 million Minnesotans. Spreading the $100,000 dollars out over that population is just under 3 cents a person. If the federal government collected a nickel or a dime more from each Minnesota tax payer and fed that money back into this service there would be plenty of money to cover all the funerals.

    • John O.

      This is federal funding–not state funding. With all of the goofiness going on at the VA, finding $150,000 to give every Minnesota veteran a proper military service should not be difficult. That’s probably equal to roughly one FTE, making this a no-brainer.

      • Jack Ungerleider

        I understand its Federal funding. The use of Minnesota’s population was to illustrate that if they allocated this money based on population we can cover the additional cost very easily. (As I would expect could other states.)

    • jon

      I appreciate your math, here is a different perspective.

      1911 fewer funerals at $50 each is about $100,000 which works out to about the taxes paid by 8-9 “median households.”

      Sure it’s 8-9 out of 300 million (300,000,000) potential tax payers in the US (which on average make less than the median household income, yes that statement makes sense, many house holds have multiple people working, and average is different than median) but it’s still 8-9 households entire contribution to running the federal government.

      Eventually Every nickel, dime, and penny adds up…

      That being said I don’t know that I have a strong opinion on the topic either way… I think it would be wise for those families who don’t strongly desire a military presence at a funeral to opt out of having the honor guard, so that for those where it means a great deal it can be available.

      • Like a cruise missile?

        But, sure, if the country wants to bury its vets without military honors, it certainly has the right to do so.

        But stop waving the flag and talking about how you support vets. Because if you can’t fold a flag and fire off a volley for them, then what can you do?

      • Jack Ungerleider

        Your absolutely correct in your analysis. But I’ll see your 8-9 “median households” and raise you the last million in short term capital gains earned by a member of the investor class. That million is taxed at 15%, if I remember correctly, which amounts to $150,000.

        • jon

          I believe 15% is for sums far less than a million, but I understand your intent.

          To state it either way is not quiet honest because our taxes come from a variety or sources… I don’t know the percent of taxes that are collected that are income vs. capital gains… Wikipedia suggests to me that only ~50% of taxes collected by the federal government are individual income taxes (which would include capital gains)… the next largest slice of the pie is social security (Which wouldn’t be spend on military funerals) and then coperate taxes (which would be)

          Odds are it something closer to the last quarter million earned on wall street, 2 median households, and the other half of the money comes from corperatations and other sources.

      • David

        In my experience the family had to specifically request the honor and arrange with the funeral director and the cemetary their presence.
        I imagine those families who don’t strongly desire the honor don’t go through the trouble of making the arrangements.