The rendering of Military Funeral Honors is a way to show the Nation's deep gratitude to those who, in times of war and peace, have faithfully defended our country. This ceremonial paying of respect is the final demonstration a grateful Nation can provide to its veterans' families. The tradition of providing Military Funeral Honors, in some form, began in ancient Greece and Rome. The funeral honors protocol of today traces its roots to these ancient ceremonies as well as to historical American experiences.
Our Armed Forces have always provided Military Funeral Honors whenever possible. On January 1, 2000, however, Congress changed the landscape of how we honor our veterans by mandating that we render Military Funeral Honors using a detail of not less than two members of the Armed Forces for any eligible veteran, if requested to do so by the family. With increasing honors requirements, force reductions, base closures, and operations tempo, the base-level honor guards now have a challenging mission. In response to the law, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Military Services developed several resources to support this effort; including an instructional toolkit (located on the Military Funeral Honors web site) to funeral home directors to ensure honors requirements would be identified and channeled to appropriate honor guard units.
In order to support this mission, Congress has provided for the Authorized Provider Partnership Program (AP3). As authorized by law, AP3 allows members of veterans' and other organizations to participate with the Armed Forces in providing Military Funeral Honors. In addition, these volunteers may be reimbursed for their expenses as amplified in guidance from the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense (Force Management Policy).