Connecticut Budget Woes Limit Military Funeral Honors

Paul C. Huber has a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for serving in World War II.

Which is why his family was both surprised and confused when the Army veteran didn’t receive a traditional three-volley salute at his July funeral service.

Huber’s wish was to be buried with full military honors, but some of the honors many consider customary at military funerals are not federally mandated.

"It’s very disappointing. These people that put their lives on the line for this great country deserve every single honor they have," said the late veteran's son, Dave Huber.

Huber said his father was honored with the playing of taps, and a folding and presentation of an American flag to his next of kin.

Those honors mandated by federal laws for military funerals, but everything else is extra, based on what the state will cover.

"A few of us were looking and waiting," Huber said.

As of July 1, the state stopped paying a stipend to the Honor Guard detail that carries out the rifle salute. The state currently does not have a budget, and the executive order the Governor signed did not include funding for the Honor Guard, according to Chris McClure, a spokesperson for Governor Dannel Malloy.

McClure said a good number of states don’t fund the extra services.

Members of the Honor Guard detail that provide the three-volley salute got a stipend of $50-per-person, per day. McClure said that doesn’t necessarily cover the entire cost of the rifle volley, since the detail does about 3,500 funerals a year, statewide.

Once the state budget is in place, the stipend could be restored, according to McClure.

The state gets an average between $750,000 and $1 million in federal funding to make sure the federal-mandated honors are constantly funded, according to Major Mike Petersen, director of communications for the Connecticut National Guard, that runs the Honor Guard.

"They can’t get the honor they deserve. So our Posts are trying to pick up some of the slack on this," said Ed DeGumbia, the state department commander of the American Legion.

DeGumbia said Legion posts are using their own squads or forming firing squads to provide the service.

"It’s about saying goodbye to our brothers and sisters," DeGumbia said.

State Rep. Liz Linehan (D- Cheshire, Southington, Wallingford) tells NBC Connecticut she has partnered with the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association to create a map of where third-party groups are providing military honors, including buglers and riflemen and women. They provide the services for free or for a small donation. Click here to see the map.

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