When a person thinks about service in the United States military, the first thought might be about war. However, we rarely think about people who choose to support those brothers and sisters in time of war and when one pays that ultimate sacrifice.
The men and women of the National Guard serve that function. Maj. Gen. Glenn Curtis is the Adjutant General for the Louisiana National Guard, responsible for programs and plans affecting over 11,500 members of the Louisiana Army and Air National Guard.
For all United States military, whether active, reserve, retired or veteran, the option is given to the surviving family of the soldier to have a military funeral. Full military honors consist of a 21 gun salute, an American flag over the coffin, folding of the flag and playing of “Taps.”
When a veteran passes away, the Dept. of Defense funds the Louisiana National Guard and its Funeral Honors team to provide that service. The Funeral Honors team stays busy, conducting the Honors for multiple veteran funerals daily in Louisiana. “When you wear a uniform in the military, you’re apt to be called anywhere at any time,” said Maj. Gen. Curtis.
The Funeral Honors team goes beyond the funeral to emotionally support grieving family members in the long term. “The families go through a lot of pain and suffering through those years, whether you’re actually gone, or the threat of you being gone,” Curtis said.
When fellow soldiers are ready to deploy across the world, the Louisiana National Guard also assists in any final preparations prior to deployment and guides family members through the process. Often times, families just need emotional support.
Maj. Gen. Curtis tells them that he is grateful for their loved one’s service and for their family’s support of them. Secondly, he tells them not to worry. Most of the time during deployment, soldiers are not in harms way.
“They may be homesick, dirty, cold, hot… whatever, but most of the time they’re fine,” Maj. Gen. Curtis said. Telling the family of a soldier not to worry usually does not offer much comfort in such an emotional situation, though he and others in the National Guard try their best. Remembering his deployment, Curtis laughingly said, “with my wife, it didn’t do any good, and with my mother, it didn’t do any good.”
It is human nature to worry no matter how much reassurance people are given, and Maj. Gen. Curtis and the Louisiana National Guard are there, visible, when they are needed the most.
Higher Calling: Honoring Those Who Served
A look inside the preparation of a military funeral.