ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - With last Friday's signing of the National Defense Authorization Act came payoff for a U.S. Navy widow from Alaska, and military families across the country, thanks to included changes to military funeral honors.
Kathryn Sharp has worked to restore full military honors for veterans since her 20-year Navy veteran husband Creig Sharp passed away in September 2018 and was denied them.
Creig Sharp was only eligible for standard Navy Honors – including a folded flag and the sounding of taps, with no rifle salute. At the time he did not qualify for full honors because he was not a Medal of Honor recipient, nor did he die in the line of duty.
Kathryn enlisted the help of local military organizations to assist in giving her husband the full honors she felt he deserved – but the whole process was straining and difficult for her and her family. Wanting to prevent that from happening to other veteran families, Kathryn teamed up with U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan to bring lasting changes to the NDAA military funeral honors provision
The amendment to the Full Military Honors Ceremony for Veterans bill, co-authored by Sen. Sullivan and signed into law Dec. 20, gives the U.S. Secretary of Defense power to “provide full military honors for the funeral of a veteran who – (A) is first interred or first inurned in Arlington National Cemetery on or after the date of the enactment of the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2020; (B) was awarded the Medal of Honor or Prisoner-of-War Medal; and (C) is not entitled to full military honors by the grade of that veteran.”
The amendment also outlines plans that military installations need to follow upon request of full funeral honors, including the provision of a gun salute “… if authorized, for each funeral by appropriate personnel …”
Kathryn Sharp says her husband would be happy to know that other families will be saved the struggle to bury their loved ones with full military honors.
"He would be so pleased that something good came out of something bad,” Sharp said to Sen. Sullivan, “that his passing was a vehicle to improve life for others."