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The Hopkins County Military Coalition



What's it all about? Well, a new coalition of veterans - any honorably discharged veterans - is being formed to provide military funeral rites for veterans wishing to have such a ceremony.

The Department of Defense is quite busy since September 11, 2001.

At this time the military will only consider sending a small squad of men to the cemetery for graveside services ONLY if the veteran was retired from the military.

Well, this group of veterans in Hopkins County, Texas, has elected to do something about it. They are organizing volunteers to perform this service with absolutely no charge to the family of veterans or to the community.

Not all veterans wish military rites at their funeral. Not all veterans are a member of one of the many veterans organizations that might be able to take part in the services.

And, fact of the matter is that the number of veterans is declining while the average age is increasing, it is time to address this problem.

The Coalition is being supported by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8560, American Legion Post 642, and the local Disabled American Veterans, And some members of these organizations will take part in the Coalition. However, a volunteer need not join or be a member of any organization to help provide final rites for a fallen comrade anywhere in Hopkins County.

The goal is to get enough members who are cross trained in the various duties that the same people will not be called upon for every veteran's funeral in the county.

Veterans wishing to join the coalition should contact Capt. Joe Scott, Hopkins County Veterans Service Officer at 903-439-1065.

The following article explains why the coalition is needed. VFW Post 8560 is supporting the coalition and urging its members to join.



A reprint from "The Stars and Stripes"

Families of veterans who request honor guards at their loved ones’ funerals may soon find more options available under language added to the 1999 defense authorization bill by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Lane Evans, D-Ill. The bill was approved by Congress October 1. Its new language requires the Pentagon to provide three-person burial honor teams beginning in 2000 upon request from a veteran’s family. It also mandates that the Defense Department and the VA convene a “summit’ meeting and report to Congress by March 31, 1999, on how honor details can be configured. The needed personnel might come from veterans’ or other organizations. Cutbacks in staffing and an increasing number of requests have forced the Defense Department to cut- back, on military honors at funerals. The move to require an honor guard had received the support of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Jewish War Veterans, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans and American Ex-Prisoners of War. “We simply cannot allow distinguished veterans and their families to be denied burial honors,” Murray said. “We must do a better job for our veterans and their families. The Department of Defense has to play a role in providing honor guards when requested, and this bill is a step in that direction.” “I believe we have a duty to each and every veteran that we remember and honor their service to our country, said Evans. “This bill gives meaning to the words ‘on behalf of a grateful nation” that accompanies the presentation of the flag to the family at a funeral. “It is not only honoring our veterans, but their spouses, their children, their families, their neighbors and everyone who has benefited from their service to our country.” “By including these provisions, we.are one step closer to ensuring that every family that asks, for funeral honors get those honors” Murray said. “It is so important that we give veterans and their families this final tribute to recognize their service.

Since the Hopkins County Military Coalition was concieved by then County Judge Dr. Joe R. Minter and others in 1997, the unit has performed almost 500 military funerals by July, 2008.

The uniformed Coalition provides a bugler to play Taps, a firing squad firing 3 volleys, folding and presentation of the burial flag along with a commemorative plaque to the specified kin.