LATHAM, New York -- Pandemic restrictions on funeral services resulted in New York Army National Guard honor guard teams providing over 1,200 fewer military funeral services in 2020 than in 2019.The honor guard Soldiers expect to conduct 7,190 military honors at veteran’s funerals by the end of 2020.In 2019 the New York Army National Guard provided military honors for 8,456 families.The 2020 figure is 1,266 fewer funeral honors missions than in 2019.A 2000 federal law mandates that former members of the U.S. military who served on active duty or the reserves and who did not receive a dishonorable discharge are eligible for military funeral honors.All former service members' funeral honors include the folding and presenting of an American flag to his or her survivors and the playing of taps. The two-person teams usually use an electronic bugle -- a bugle with a sound system and speaker inside.The New York Army National Guard provides funeral honors through a centralized program.The New York Air National Guard maintains honor guards at its five airbases and the Eastern Air Defense Sector headquarters in Rome, New York.Restrictions on the number of people who could be present at funerals early in the pandemic, along with many families deciding not to hold a formal burial or funeral drove the decline in numbers, said Peter Moran, the coordinator for the New York Army National Guard’s Military Funeral Honors Program.A Veterans Administration decision to discontinue graveside services and military funeral honors at National Cemeteries for part of the year also drove the decline in funeral missions, Moran said.The New York Army National Guard’s eight Military Funeral Honors offices normally conduct 700 funerals each month, Moran said. In March, April, and June those numbers dropped.In March there were 513 funeral missions, which went down to 229 in April, 337 in May, and 511 in June before climbing back up to the average when restrictions on funeral attendance were loosened, Moran said.New York, and especially New York City and its suburbs, was hit early by the COVID-19 pandemic.The New York Army National Guard has honor guard offices in the Bronx, Queens, Long Island, Latham, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Horseheads.As of December 23, New York Army National Guard military funeral teams had provided honors for 7,005 families. He expects the funeral teams to conduct 145 more funerals by Dec. 31, 2020 for a total of 7,190, Moran said.The New York Army National Guard provides honors for those who served in the Army or, in the case of World War II veterans, the Army Air Forces.The three offices covering New York City and Long island handled 5,041 funerals in 2019, according to Moran. In 2020 that figure is 4,125.The teams in upstate New York performed 3,415 military funeral honors in 2019. In 2020 they have provided honors 2,880 times.Families who decided to forgo military honors can apply for them to be conducted later through their funeral director, Moran said.There are 40 Soldiers who work full time providing military funeral honors and another 50 who can be called upon on a part-time basis when required, according to Moran.The most significant change was during the presentation of the flag to the veteran’s family, Moran said.Traditionally the leader of the team kneels and presents the flag to a family member on “behalf of a grateful nation.”Instead, the flag was folded and placed on the coffin or behind a cremains urn and the Soldier made their remarks from six feet away, he said.New York Army National Guard Funeral Honors by office and Air Base for 2020 and 2019:• Long Island: 2,219 in 2020 and 2,981 in 2019• Bronx: 939 in 2020 and 1,088 in 2019• Queens: 967 in 2020 and 1,045 in 2019• Albany area: 752 in 2020 and 869 in 2019• Buffalo: 830 in 2020 and 963 in 2019• Rochester: 551 in 2020 and 772 in 2019• Syracuse: 464 in 2020 and 559 in 2019• Horseheads: 283 in 2020 and 327 in 2019