By DANIELLE REID
Recently, The Patriot ran an article about the Pulaski County Veteran’s Funeral Honors being in jeopardy. The result was that several Veterans have stepped forward and volunteered their time and talents to help ensure their military counterparts are shown the highest appreciation for their service to our nation. This is especially impactful since Veteran’s Day was celebrated last week.
Emil Moldovan, Commander of the Honor Guard for Dublin American Legion Post #58, was especially grateful for the results.
“Both new members called me as a result of the newspaper article in The Patriot. The third new potential is a member of Pulaski VFW Post and told another one of my members he wanted to help,” stated Moldovan.
He received an email from Commonwealth’s Attorney Justin L. Griffith, but thinking it was just another of the dozens of polical pleas for funding, he deleted it. Fortunately, Griffith also made contact through a phone call.
When Griffith read the story in The Patriot about the Pulaski County Veterans Funeral Honors being in jeopardy, he made a commitment for his office to find a way to help.
The plight of the Veteran’s Funeral Honors program reached several other readers as well, and three individuals contacted Moldovan to volunteer their time and talents for this important detail.
By law, every Veteran is entitled to a military detail if they served for one-year or more, has an honorary discharge or equialent and has not been convicted of a capital offense. There are different types of military funeral honors, depending on the deceased Veteran’s rank.
Last year, the Veteran’s Funeral Honor Guard performed 154 military funerals; and over 100 so far in 2023. They try to maintain a military-type presence by wearing regulation-type uniforms and performing specific maneuvers. The uniforms and accoutriments can cost up to $700 each, which puts a financial burden on the Post as well as the volunteers.
“There is nothing cheap about our uniforms,” stated Moldovan. The coats cost $150.00, shoes are up to $100.00, Pea Cutter caps are in the $75.00 range and the black wool military sweater costs $85.00.” Some participants have been able to locate items at a thrift-shop or Goodwill store to cut costs.
Steve Akers, Dublin Post #58 Commander reiterated that they have always bought uniforms including coats, blazers, shoes and all the patches, gold braid belts and buckles, etc. Although the Post raises money through several venues, it is still a financial burden.
Here is where an unexpected resource, supporting Veterans in the community, transpired.
In a heart-felt press release to the citizens of Pulaski County, Griffith explained the motive and the process for the Commonwealth’s Attorney Office’s generous donation of $2,000 toward the purchase of uniforms and repair of the Jeep used in funeral processions.
“I was fortunate enough to be raised in a household where my parents taught me if you see a need and you can meet a need, you should. Our office makes every effort to carry that mentality forward to our community,” Griffith stated in the release.
“In criminal prosecutions of drug dealers, law enforcement may take money that is tied to the crime. Once forfeited to the Commonwealth, prosecutors can disburse those funds back into the community in a way that strengthens relationships and encourages goodwill with law enforcement.
“In October, of 2023 our local paper, The Patriot, reported that Pulaski County veteran funeral honors are in jeopardy. The article quoted ‘they deserve our appreciation for their service in life, and our honor in death, for when their service is over.’ There has never been more of an understatement written. I was completely aghast at learning they were sounding an alarm those services potentially coming to an end in our County. In addition, I felt guilty for being naïve at what an undertaking and commitment those services are.
“Shortly after reading that article, I contacted the Commander of the Honor Guard of Dublin American Legion Post and inquired regarding a desire to help. We recently learned in response to the original article two new members have joined the Honor Guard of Dublin American Legion Post and they are processing a third candidate. The new members receive new shirts, patches, belts, buckles, pants, shoes, topcoats, blazers and sweaters. In addition, as part of the burial services, the Honor Guard transports caskets in a 1942 Army Jeep that is fitted with a caisson.
“This cause feels personal to me, in our community we have the privilege to interact with veterans daily. Whether it is shaking the hand of a veteran dropping his daughter of for ballet practice or meeting the newest lawyer at the Public Defender’s Office who served. In addition, as you probably know, many law enforcement officers segue their careers from the military to law enforcement. This office has gotten the opportunity to know many veterans that we have the honor of working with every day. Just as they were prepared to do anything to protect this country they are willing to do anything to protect our County. Their duty to serve constantly permeates throughout our office.
“Commonwealth’s Attorney’s offices, by nature, are required to make difficult decisions every day that impact the whole county. Today, we were able to make an easy decision. The Pulaski County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office is proud to announce that we will be purchasing these new uniforms and contributing to the cost of repairs for the Jeep. I am hopeful that our $2,000 donation can springboard others to reach out to our American Legion and tell them how you can help them. Our community deserves to be known seeing a need and meeting a need and collectively we can accomplish that,” Griffith closed.
This has been said, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it is in your power to act.” (Proverbs 3:27-28) There are many Veterans’ families who will appreciate the good deeds performed by our local Veteran’s Funeral Honor Guard and the generosity of the Commonwealth’s Attorney Office.
To contact the American Legion military Funeral Honors Guard, please call Emil Moldovan at 540.674.0684.