WASHINGTON — It is America's final salute to its fallen heroes.
But for now, the time-honored expression of thanks -- a military honor guard -- will not be present when a veteran is buried at a Department of Veterans Affairs cemetery.
In a news release on the V.A's website over the weekend, the agency announced that starting March 23, "as a matter of public health and safety, committal services and the rendering of military funeral honors, whether by military personnel or volunteer organizations, will be suspended until further notice at VA national cemeteries."
And that's not all. Interments will be limited to 10 immediate family members.
"It's sad, but it's the right thing to do," said retired Navy Captain Joe Bouchard of Virginia Beach. "It's important for the families and it's important for the shipmates of the veterans who want to pay their last respects. But what the Veterans Administration announced really is the right thing to do,
In its release, the V.A. does not indicate how long this change will last, but it does say cemeteries will work to schedule a committal or memorial services at a later date.