Ohio official wants county to be able to pay for honor guard uniforms, guns

ELYRIA, Ohio — A Lorain County commissioner wants changes to Ohio law so the board can purchase new uniforms and rifles for veteran organizations’ honor guards, who are often asked to be present at funerals of veterans.

Recently, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1079 said its honor guard’s uniforms date back 30 or 40 years. Many of the rifles used during the 21-gun salute are from World War II, said Commissioner Tom Williams.

“You’ve got guns that are actually misfiring,” he said. “A veteran had one issue where the gun fired and a part of the gun came off.”

The honor guard’s uniforms have typically been paid for by the county’s various veterans groups, but those groups have lost funds in recent years.

“They can’t get the funding because the Internet cafes are hurting these clubs,” he said. “That’s where they got a lot of their funding. With the loss of revenue, they’re having a hard time doing it.”

State law prevents the Veterans Commission or the Board of Commissioners from paying for the honor guard, Williams said.

The county has $60,000 allocated for grave markers, but that is the only money it can give to the group.

Williams said he hopes to approach local state legislators to see if a change to the language can be made. He said the change he is proposing would require approval from both the Veterans Commission and the Board of Commissioners.

“You would think they would be able to give money to an organization that is presenting the colors and doing a 21-gun salute for a veteran on the day that they are being put to rest,” he said.

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