Military funerals for veterans at risk as All Veterans Honor Guard pleas for volunteers


Military funerals at risk as All Veterans Honor Guard pleas for volunteers

Military funerals at risk as All Veterans Honor Guard pleas for volunteers


The organization that provides military funerals in Colorado is sounding an alarm. The All Veterans Honor Guard says unless it can attract more volunteers it will dissolve and thousands of veterans may go without military honors.



“I’ve been out here when we’ve done 13 in one day,” says Colonel Les Kennedy. “I’m going to tell you,13 is a tough day.”

He’s among some 80 veterans who conduct more than 1,500 military funerals a year in Colorado, “If you look, we’re all gray-haired. We’re taking the place of the military. This is what happens. This is a military function by statute, by law.”

But the military can’t keep up, so volunteers like Kennedy and Alan Jaffe have stepped in.

“We’re here for a purpose and it’s not for ourselves,” says Jaffe.



As team commander, he leads the services. All he knows of those who died is that they were willing to die for our country, “Each one is treated with the same respect and dignity that they deserve.” 

The ceremony includes the playing of taps, the presentation of the American flag, and a three-volley salute.

Jaffe called it “a sad duty of respect”. It is a duty they carry out with no pay.

“It’s our honor to do this,” says Kennedy.

But their ranks are thinning. The timing of the funerals is difficult for young veterans with jobs and the rifle fire is difficult for those with combat-related PTSD.

Kennedy wonders who will be there when they can no longer, “I guess one day it will just die. If we don’t get people coming out to join us, it’ll just end.”



The All Veterans Honor Guard has conducted more than 23,000 military funerals in Colorado over the last 30 years. Right now, only veterans can join. Some Honor Guard members say that may need to change if the organization is to survive, which would mean changing federal law. For now, the group is asking any veteran willing to commit to even a few days a month to consider joining them.

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