Senators introduce 'Creig Sharp Funeral Honors for Veterans Act'

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have introduced the Creig Sharp Funeral Honors for Veterans Act, to ensure that all veterans have access to full military funeral honors. Specifically, the legislation requires military installations to develop a plan to utilize both on-base and off-base resources for funeral ceremonies for veterans, even when government resources may not be available.

“Kathryn Sharp came to me last November and I couldn’t believe the walls she had to break down to get her husband – a 20-year Navy veteran – full military funeral honors,” said Senator Sullivan. “On one of the worst days of her life, she worked hard to give her husband the honors he earned after serving his country for two decades. I am hopeful this legislation will ensure that no other military family will have to go through what she went through and I hope we can include this legislation in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act. The families of those that have sacrificed so much for our country deserve nothing less.”

“Our military must do a better job of making sure our Veterans and servicemembers have equal access to military funeral honors,” Senator Duckworth said. “This legislation would establish a uniform standard and ensure military families and loved ones aren’t left in the lurch by our nation at one of the hardest times in their lives. I’m glad to be working across the aisle with Senator Sullivan to help it become law.”

“Every day American soldiers, sailors, and airmen put their lives on the line in the defense of freedom and prosperity for all. These brave men and women in uniform deserve to be honored and recognized for their service to this nation. But as it stands, there are eligibility requirements that disqualify brave military service members, such as the late Navy Chief Petty Officer Sharp of Palmer, from receiving full honors at his funeral. This is unreasonable and unacceptable,” said Senator Murkowski. “Those who have gone above and beyond in service to our nation should have the opportunity to be considered for full military funeral honors—for the sake of their personal legacy and for the families and loved ones that are still here to honor them.”

“The goal of our bill is simple: to ensure that those who fought for our country in their lifetime receive the recognition and respect they deserve in death,” said Senator Blumenthal. “Military funeral honors are a final act of acknowledgement and gratitude to veterans and their families for their sacrifice and service. We have a sacred and solemn responsibility to honor those who served in uniform, and this bill ensures that we meet that responsibility even when they’re gone.”

BACKGROUND:

The bill is named after Creig Sharp, Navy Chief Petty Officer (Ret.), who joined his fallen shipmates on September 30, 2018. Creig enlisted in the Navy in 1960 and served 20 years as an Aviation Ordnanceman. Per Navy regulations unlike other services, Creig did not qualify for full Navy funeral honors because he was not a Medal of Honor recipient and he did not pass while on active duty. Creig’s wife Kathryn Sharp, attempted to solicit the help of a local Veteran Service Organization (VSO) to act as pall bearers and perform a rifle salute to provide Creig with full funeral honors. The VSO members were unable to carry firearms on the installation, because the Department of Defense currently lacks plans to effectively utilize outside rifle teams for funeral ceremonies. Eventually Kathryn was able to enlist the help of National Guard service members on the installation who were able to perform the rifle volley for her husband and American Legion members acted as pall bearers.

“I am so grateful to Senator Sullivan, and his staff, for the support and assistance they have given me to fight for what is right,” said Kathryn Sharp. “All veterans, regardless of the military branch they served in, deserve to be recognized and respected properly when they are laid to rest. Our family is honored to have this bill named after my husband, Navy Chief Petty Officer (Ret.) Creig Sharp; a man who deeply loved his family and his country.”

The Creig Sharp Funeral Honors for Veterans Act will require military installations to have a plan to provide full individual military funeral honors for all veterans upon their request and resources permitting. This plan includes the use of Guard, Reserve, and VSO resources to ensure veterans of all components including Guard units are given full military funeral honors if requested.