Letter: Consider paying vets to stand guard at funerals

Recent letters regarding the honor guards for military funerals need to be taken seriously. I’m sure almost everyone has had someone they knew buried with these honors. Every Memorial Day weekend, it’s played out on the nightly news. Our President visits the Tomb of the Unknown, at our country’s National Cemetery, in Arlington, Va.

Everyone needs to attend the Changing of the Guard At Their Tomb. I’ve seen it twice, an experience I will never forget. I was there representing our local chapter of a National POW/MIA Organization that has since broken up. Our entire existence was based on the honor and respect of our veterans and POW’S, past, present and future, making appearances and doing programs for the benefit of a veteran in need or an organization representing them.

The feelings can similarly be felt with the playing of “Taps,” along with the accompanied 21-gun salute. Having spent a lot of time in several local veterans organizations, socially and representing our local chapter of a National POW/MIA Organization that has since broken up, I want to offer my view.

First off, age is a major factor. Yes, younger membership has grown, since Middle East conflicts began. However, not all but some groups do not welcome them into their operations. Sometimes it’s just human nature not to welcome change.

Membership never guarantees activity in a group. When dues are paid, a portion of operational costs are met. The rest comes through the cash register. That’s on the organization.

When they take an office, they are directly involved with operations. Past that, it’s called volunteering. Believe me, the Ladies Auxiliaries are hurting too: Bake sales, funeral dinners, all of their activities and fundraisers.

Considering time of service, working vets are limited to participation, while second-shifters are most available. So it comes down to retirees for the most part.

They don’t need to march. Just organize and perform the service. I know of a man in his 90s that participates regularly. Can the average person deal with losing a day’s pay? How about a paid-work leave, even if for a half day? I’m not saying it has to be profitable, just cover lost wages. Has the Veterans Administration board looked into it? Contact your representatives in Congress, ask questions and be active. It’s an American tragedy, not just veterans.

Jeff McDougle



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