They sacrifice so much and expect nothing in return, but State Senator Kenneth Corn believes Oklahoma's veterans deserve the utmost respect and a fitting tribute when they are laid to rest. For this reason, he has filed Senate Bill 295, which he has named the "Ray Corn Oklahoma Veterans Military Funeral Honors Act" in memoriam of his father, a veteran of the U.S. Navy and the Oklahoma National Guard. The bill would help ensure that all of Oklahoma's military veterans receive military funeral honors services.
"Unfortunately, many Oklahoma families don't realize that their military loved ones are entitled to have military honors at their funerals and also that the service is free," said Corn. "I authored this bill to help raise awareness among military families as well as get the Military Department the funds they need to ensure that all of our brave men and women in the military receive this honorable tribute."
SB 295 would create a program to allow the Oklahoma Military Department to coordinate with funeral homes throughout the state to make sure military families are made aware of the military services available to them. The measure also forbids funeral establishments from charging families for anything those members request related to the military funeral honors.
According to the Oklahoma Military Department, from October 2007 to October 2008, 783 military funeral honors services were provided, and by the end of the year, 226 services will have been provided since the beginning of October.
A revolving fund would be created within the Oklahoma Military Department to help pay for the services. This fund would not be subject to fiscal year limitations but would consist of all monies received by the Military Department from the legislature.
"The need for these military services is increasing each year as our veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam are passing away. That's why I feel it is so important that the legislature step in and help fund these services and that we make sure families know that the services are available," said Corn. "We have to do all we can to honor our veterans, and I believe this is one of the greatest ways that we can pay one final tribute to their service and sacrifice as well as that of their families."
Services provided by the Oklahoma Military Department for the funerals of veterans and their spouses can include a gun salute based on the individuals rank, military pall bearers, a flag presentation, the playing of taps and a flyover. Families can request any or all of these services.