An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Article View
NEWS | Jan. 5, 2024

Virginia, NC Guard Soldiers Learn Funeral Honor Fundamentals

By A.J. Coyne, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Army National Guard Soldiers from Virginia and North Carolina learned the finer points of rendering honors to military veterans during Level 1 funeral honors training Dec. 11-15 at the State Military Reservation.

Hosted by the Virginia National Guard Funeral Honors Program, the five-day course prepares Soldiers to conduct professional military funeral honors by service tradition. Four Virginia National Guard Soldiers and two North Carolina National Guard Soldiers were led by five trainers, two from Virginia and two from North Carolina.

“The training is a challenge both physically and mentally,” said Spc. Gabriel Joines, a Virginia Guard Soldier assigned to the 1033rd Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group. “Physically you’re not used to using a lot of these muscle groups. And the mental part is tough because you’re trying to get it right every single time. You need to be perfect for that family because they are in a lot of pain.”

Joines knows because he’s been on the other side, having seen a funeral honors team perform at a funeral for a family member.

“I was really impressed by them and I thought it was something honorable to do and would be good for my future,” he explained.

Sgt. Brooke Hullings of Greensboro, North Carolina, hasn’t been on the other side of a service but realized the importance of the mission.

A North Carolina National Guard Soldier assigned to the 882nd Engineer Company, 105th Engineer Battalion, 130th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Hullings received a message from her twin sister, who is also in the North Carolina Guard, who saw a flyer about the program.

“This is something a lot of people can’t do but I think I can totally do and they need the help,” she said she thought to herself. “That was in March. I started full time with the program in June.”

Hullings has already been performing ceremonies but the Level 1 training was important because it provided her with training for services she often doesn’t get to perform, such as rendering full honors.

“In my region, we don’t do full honors because we don’t always have the personnel,” she explained. “So learning more about performing full honors has been huge for me.”

The hardest part of training and performing ceremonies is to not get into your own head, she explained.

“You’re going over every single motion and then you’re getting frustrated,” Hullings said. “The muscles and the strain on them, trying to hold everything the proper way. You have to keep that constant posture the whole time.”

There’s a reason the Soldiers need to keep their posture for the families.

“I think the key is to keep your composure so you don’t take away from what they’re experiencing,” she said. “If you perform flawlessly and without any mistakes, they’re going to see it as a beautiful thing.”

Begun in January 2007, the Virginia National Guard Military Honors Program comprises four teams throughout the state that provide funeral details for National Guard Soldiers and veterans of the active Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard.

They have performed more than 26,000 funeral services throughout the commonwealth and average 200 services each month.

In addition to the Level 1 training course, Virginia also annually hosts the Level 2 National Training Course and the Level 3 National Recertification Course with Army National Guard Soldiers from around the country.

 

 

Related Articles
Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Fort Barfoot-based 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute, conduct an infantry tactics exchange with soldiers from the Republic of Tajikistan’s Ministry of Defense Peacekeeping Battalion March 3-8, 2024, in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The Virginia Guard and Tajikistan are partners through the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program.
Virginia Guard Conducts Infantry Tactics Exchange in Tajikistan
By Mike Vrabel, | March 29, 2024
DUSHANBE, Tajikistan - Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute, conducted an infantry tactics exchange with soldiers from the Republic of Tajikistan’s Ministry of Defense...

The Virginia Army National Guard Funeral Honors Program hosts 11 Army National Guard Soldiers from nine states and territories for a level 2 funeral honors training course March 5, 2024, at the State Military Reservation in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Soldiers from Virginia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Wisconsin participated in the two week-long training, which certifies instructors to teach fellow Soldiers the skills, procedures and standards for providing final respects to military veterans.
Army National Guard Soldiers Train in Funeral Honors Program
By A.J. Coyne, | March 20, 2024
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The Virginia Army National Guard Funeral Honors Program hosted 11 Army National Guard Soldiers from nine states and territories for a training course Feb. 26-March 8 at the State Military...

U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Carlos Maldonado, the commander of the 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, and Command Sgt. Maj. David Elliot, the battalion's senior enlisted advisor, uncase their unit colors during a transfer of authority ceremony in Powidz, Poland, March 11, 2024.
Virginia National Guard Takes Over Poland Sustainment Mission
By Sgt. 1st Class Jason Hull, | March 15, 2024
POWIDZ, Poland - The Virginia National Guard’s 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion unfurled its organizational colors and took responsibility for logistics, maintenance and supply missions from the Army Reserve’s 787th...