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Honoring those who have served

By Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Scott | Army Reserve Medical Command | November 01, 2017

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. -- During a visit to the Vietnam Memorial on Veteran’s Day in 1988, President Ronald Reagan said, “Our liberties, our values, all for which America stands, is safe today because brave men and women have been ready to face the fire at freedom’s front.”

Providing final military funeral honors to those men and women who have served our Nation in war and in peace has been Sgt. 1st Class Danny Paul’s mission since 2004, as part of the Florida Military Funeral Honors Team. Since then, Paul estimates that he has supported more than 18,000 funerals for Veterans; first with the Florida National Guard and then with the Army Reserve beginning in 2015.

Paul is one of the many service members who support the 81st Readiness Division’s enduring mission to provide military funeral honors to Veterans of all eras and ages across the state of Florida. Paul coordinates funeral support in approximately 55 counties for Families who request support through their funeral home or by calling Fort Stewart, Georgia, the nearest active duty Army post to Florida.

“It’s a feeling, not of pride, but of satisfaction for participating in something not too many people can do as a thank you to the Family for allowing us to render honors. It’s a good feeling that I could do something to express our appreciation for their service,” said Paul.

The Military Funeral Honors Team works closely with a Family’s casualty assistance officer and the funeral home to provide anywhere from two to seven service members on the day of the funeral to help provide the appropriate tribute to eligible Veterans, paying respect with a final demonstration of the country’s gratitude to those who have served the Nation.

Lt. Col. John Ruckart, an Army Reserve Medical Command signal officer and volunteer for the Florida Funeral Honors Team said supporting the mission is very personal for him. He keeps a notebook with a list of every service member he has supported along with a little information about the service member he has honored.

“The first time I presented the flag to a family member, I was completely overwhelmed by emotion. I felt like I was doing the most important thing that I could do as a Soldier to honor that service member and their Family,” said Ruckart.

There are 200 Army Reserve Soldiers throughout the state of Florida who support the Funeral Honors Team. There are many ways to help serve the Nation and to honor and remember the Veterans who have given so much. For those interested in getting involved, visit the National Cemetery Administration at https://www.cem.va.gov/volunteernca.asp.
81st Readiness Division ARMEDCOM Army Reserve Medical Command Florida Military Funeral Honors Team Sgt. 1st Class Danny Paul