Specialist Christopher Roderiguez salutes, as Private Shelbi Vanderbogart holds a flag folded for presentation to the family of veteran Harold Smith during graveside services in Hudson on Dec. 17.
CAPITAL REGION Members of New York State’s military counted a sobering number of losses in 2013: the New York Army and Air National Guard’s members provided 11,560 military funeral services last year.
The Army National Guard laid to rest a total of 10,175 veterans, a figure depicting a decline from an all-time high of 10,752 in 2011, according to a release from the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs,
It’s an expected decline because of the continued loss of the generation of World War II soldiers.
By the numbers
Number of military funerals performed by regional offices of the state’s Military Forces Honor Guard
• Long Island: 3,518
• New York City: 1,404
• Western New York: 1,211
• Capital Region: 779
• Hudson Valley: 764
• Rochester area: 739
• Central New York: 713
• Southern Tier: 607
The Air National Guard, during the one-year period, performed 1,560 funerals in 2013, according to the release.
Military funerals are required under a federal law passed in 2000 mandating the practice, according to the DMNA.
A ceremony requires at least two members of the military to take part, at least one of whom has to be from the same branch of service as the deceased.
More-elaborate services, referred to as “full military honors,” are provided to long-time veterans who served 20 years or more. Those who earned medals for heroism, general officers and soldiers who died in combat also receive full military honors funerals, according to the DMNA.
The state’s Army National Guard Military Forces Honor Guard was created in 1999. Since 2000, the federal government has funded military funerals.
The cost of Honor Guard services was $2.3 million in 2013 and $1.9 million is budgeted for the 2014 federal fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, according to the DMNA.
Statistics from the Department of Veterans Affairs estimate there are 943,000 veterans living in New York State by late-2012. Of those, more than 300,000 are aged 65 or older.
Figures from the New York Military Forces Honor Guard’s regional offices show the Long Island region saw the greatest number of services in 2013.