GREENFIELD — For 11 of its members, the Greenfield Veterans Honor Guard uniform has become a bit heavier.
The Indiana Funeral Honors Award, a new service ribbon recognizing the honored tradition of veterans conducting military funerals for fellow veterans, was enacted this summer in Indiana by Gov. Mike Pence, and the Greenfield unit members were recognized for their service recently in an Indianapolis ceremony.
Indiana is one of only five states that has a state ribbon recognizing the service, and of the more than 40 certified veterans service organizations in the state, the Greenfield Honor Guard is among only 10 that earned the initial award, said honor guard commander Bob Workman.
Since it was formed in 2000, the Indiana Funeral Honors program has completed more than 20,000 services throughout the state.
Greenfield’s unit conducted 66 services during the award period from January 2012 to June 30, 2013, Workman said.
“We’ve done 44 already this year, and the winter tends to be busier for us,” he said.
The honors ribbon is given to those unit members who perform 50 military funerals and similar activities in the state within a two-year period, retroactive to January 2012.
It is available to all active and retired members of the Indiana Army National Guard, Indiana Air National Guard, its reserve units and all members of the state’s veteran service organizations that have been certified and completed funeral honors training by the U.S. Department of Defense.
“It’s a six-hour program that covers the drilling procedures and how to handle the sobriety and respect for the people and the situation,” Workman said. “All the guys are ex-military, so they’re already familiar with most of it. Then as new members come on, the older guys train them.”
After a downturn in membership earlier this year, which put a strain on unit members as they performed military honors at funerals across the region, Workman said the honor guard now has a roster of 24, one shy of his earlier goal.
The Greenfield Veterans Honor Guard provides military honors to deceased veterans that include a 21-gun salute, bugler and ceremonial presentation of the flag and empty shell casings from the volley to the next of kin.
The unit is open to all honorably discharged veterans whether or not they are affiliated with any veteran’s organizations. For more information, contact Workman at (317) 462-8767.