For many veterans, a military funeral is often the only request they make for their military service. As many as seven out of 10 Minnesota veterans receive no federal benefits other than a military funeral.
"I'm probably going to have to say no to some veterans," said Chris Van Hofwegen, who heads the program for the Minnesota National Guard. "They want that headstone that says what they were. They were proud of their service and they want the honors that are due to them because they put that service in."
The state's Military Funeral Honor unit is on pace to perform 4,700 funerals by the end of its fiscal year.
First, I find it hard to believe that 7 of 10 veterans make no use of the VA and its single-payer medical care. Second, the headstone is a lasting memorial and might be a cost that can remain, even at 4700 of them paid from taxes; but having full time parade and honor guard duty assignments means that reservists and professional ground troops are being stretched thin in combat areas, or elsewhere, so that honor guards can be sponsored. It seems priorities should be toward the safety and well being of the foot soldier in combat, with all secondary behind that. Spending on better missle guidance should be secondary to spending on better IED detection, be it trained dog use or artificial odorant detection technology. And put it in battle zones before airports, as the relative risks are clear, and TSA is wasteful and intrusive.
My guess is any family would rather money spent towards a safe return, rather than a ceremony where the family gets a folded flag off a coffin. Then there is brass heaviness and pay scales and perks at the top that could be evened more, so that lower rank troops without academy histories have things better for themselves and their spouses and families.
Finally, I would rather see Colin Powell getting a lesser pension if it would mean five more families needing food stamps get them. Especially families not having any member who ever lied to the UN.