WASHINGTON — Editor's Note: The video above is from March 23, 2020.
Committal services and military funeral honors will resume at all but two U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs national cemeteries starting Tuesday. The services have been deferred since March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"During the last 10 weeks VA national cemeteries have continued performing our essential mission — to inter Veterans and eligible family members," said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie in a statement. "We believe we have a robust set of measures in place that will allow us to conduct committal and memorial services while protecting the health and safety of Veterans, their families and our team members who serve them."
Military funeral honors are provided by the Department of Defense. It generally includes folding and presenting the United States burial flag to the family of the fallen, and the playing of Taps.
VA national cemeteries will contact families who were unable to hold a committal service due to the COVID-19 outbreak to arrange memorial services for their loved ones beginning in July.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said all interments scheduled on or after June 9, will be offered the option of a committal service at the time of interment. At Calverton and Long Island national cemeteries, that option will be available starting June 22, depending on state and local guidance. Military funeral honors, customarily provided by the Department of Defense and volunteer honor guards, will be based on local availability.
The cemeteries will still follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by limiting the number of individuals attending committal services, practicing physical distancing between individuals not from the same household, ensuring all attendees and employees wear face coverings, encouraging frequent use of hand sanitizer and asking sick individuals to stay home.
The number of people available to attend funeral honors will depend on state and local regulations.