The Norman Transcript

Breaking News

Headlines

October 8, 2012

Military funerals under federal budget strains

FORT GIBSON — As Spc. Jason Shorter and his colleague make each of the 13 folds in the American flag and his fellow soldier plays taps, he knows the family of a deceased soldier or veteran is watching and listening.

Presenting that folded triangle of blue with white stars to the family to honor their loved one is one last show of appreciation for their service and sacrifice, one that family won’t forget.

“It’s a feeling that’s indescribable, that this family knows why I’m there and what we’re going to do,” said Shorter, coordinator for the Eastern Office of the Oklahoma Army National Guard’s Military Funeral Honors Program. The job involves “a lot of honor and a lot of pride.”

Federal budget cuts are straining honor guard programs across the nation, reducing the number of full-time soldiers in Oklahoma who perform the service, coordinate the funeral details and maintain the skills of soldiers to the highest standards.

The Tulsa World reported that funding for full-time soldiers to perform those services has been cut nearly in half in the last two years, while the number of services the Guard works has increased consistently, said Staff Sgt. Marvin Barbee, state coordinator for the Guard’s Military Funeral Honors Program.

With the start of the current federal fiscal year on Oct. 1, the Oklahoma National Guard’s budget for full-time staff to perform funeral details was about $287,000, Barbee said. The initial allocation in the last fiscal year was about $383,000, although an additional allocation in March added $169,000. In fiscal year 2010, the state was allocated nearly $550,000 for the function.

In the last fiscal year, the Oklahoma Army National Guard provided services for 1,464 funerals. In 2008, the Guard served at about 770 funerals, Barbee said.

While he could send more soldiers to services in the past, a typical funeral detail now consists of two soldiers, the minimum required to fold the flag and play taps.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Headlines
  • Oklahoma City Memorial Bombing museum gets tech boost

    OKLAHOMA CITY — A memorial and museum built to remember the worst act of domestic terrorism on American soil is in the midst of a $7 million upgrade so it can better portray how different the world was when Timothy McVeigh blew up the ...

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Is Okla. backing off accountability?

    One by one, K-12 education reforms passed in previous years by Oklahoma lawmakers are being targeted for weakening or repeal....

    April 19, 2014

  • Hope Trunk travels to Norman

    The rustle of paper could be heard as students meticulously folded one crane, then another and another Friday afternoon. After reading the inspiring story, “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes,” Cleveland Elementary School fifth graders ...

    April 19, 2014

  • Selling Norman is love at first sight

    Meeting planners who make a site visit to Norman tend to fall in love, convention and hospitality experts said this week. The staff of the Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau are commissioned with the job of promoting tourism and selling ...

    April 20, 2014

  • Green House is a homegrown business

    Nancy Muenzler was a banker in her previous life. That was before the Green House, 1708 SW 24th Street, became her passion....

    April 20, 2014

  • Conan’s martial arts moves downtown

    Conan’s Kickboxing, Karate, Boxing, Jujitsu, MMA Academy is celebrating the grand opening of a new facility right in the heart of downtown Norman at 310 E. Main St. Founded in 1996 by four-time World Kickboxing Champion Scott “Conan” ...

    April 20, 2014

  • Chamber welcomes new members

    The Norman Chamber of Commerce would like to thank all our sales volunteers and welcome our new Chamber members from our recent spring membership drive.  Suzanne McAuley was this year’s membership drive chair....

    April 20, 2014

  • It’s easier than ever to be your own movie producer

    Things have certainly come a long way since 1988, when the first stand-alone audio CD recorders outside of CD manufacturing plants started showing up. At that time, do-it-yourself CDs were the province of the rich and famous, as the ...

    April 20, 2014

  • Congressman Cole reflects on recovery

    Congressman Tom Cole’s home in Moore was not hit by the May 20 tornado but it came pretty close. His wife has made it clear she wants a saferoom, he said. In a visit to the Transcript on Friday afternoon, Cole talked about tornado ...

    April 19, 2014

  • Gaylord to get $35,000 grant for poverty project

    A team from Gaylord College is among the first winners in a national competition to fund innovative news experiments that serve communities, the Online News Association has announced....

    April 19, 2014