Covid-related rules impacting funeral plans at national cemeteries
Covid-19 has disrupted all large gatherings, funerals not excluded. As businesses start to reopen and most events resume, a family in Wasilla is hoping that after months of waiting, they will be able to lay their loved one to rest - with military honors.
Maurice Hendrickson served in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot and worked for the Federal Aviation Administration for more than 20 years. Hendrickson received a surprise stage 4 cancer diagnosis earlier this year and passed away on March 6. Since then his family has been in open communication with a local funeral home as they wait for the opportunity to inter Hendrickson at Fort Richardson National Cemetery.
During earlier attempts, the family was told that no military honors could be offered, and that nobody could attend --Then a few days ago, Hendrickson's wife, Linda was told that July 2 would be that day; and that military honors would be a possibility. The caveat: only ten people will be allowed to attend.
"It's very hard to know that, and not be able to have that closure, of a service. I believe that all vets deserve that. They all deserve at least a flag," said Hendrickson.
The family is hoping that rules for military funerals are loosened before then. Hendrickson says that she knows of at least four other families that are facing the same situation at this time.
"Once I realized that it's far bigger than me, and My family, I thought 'No, I have to wait. I have to wait and I have to believe that it's going to open up," said Hendrickson.
KTUU reached out to the communications office at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson about the current procedures and protocols for interment at Fort Richardson National Cemetery. According to officials there, the rules and regulations for carrying out a funeral during the pandemic are being issued by the U.S Department of Veteran's Affairs' National Cemetery Administration.