With help from JMC and TACOM, organizations honor fallen Vets

By Matthew Wheaton, Joint Munitions Command, Public and Congressional AffairsApril 18, 2023

With help from JMC and TACOM, organizations honor fallen Vets
Almost 20,000 veterans service organizations have ceremonial ammo, which is issued to them by the Joint Munitions Command and must be fired from rifles acquired through the Army-Tank-automotive and Armaments Command. (Photo Credit: Matthew Wheaton) VIEW ORIGINAL

In conjunction with the Army-Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM), the Joint Munitions Command (JMC) provides blank ammunition and clips free of charge to Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, American Legions, Disabled American Veterans chapters, and the Marine Corps League.

Along with other veterans’ organizations and law enforcement agencies, ceremonial ammo is used while performing military funeral honors, in parades, and other events.

Almost 20,000 veterans service organizations have ceremonial ammo, which must be fired from weapons that are issued by TACOM.

Bolt-action and M1 Garand rifles disperse the ammunition, and 177,292 bolt-actions and 125,999 M1s are currently in use. JMC distributed 3 million rounds of ceremonial ammo across the United States last year.

Two hundred sixty-six VFWs currently have ceremonial ammo and rifles in their possession.

"As far as what the ceremonial ammo and rifles in particular mean to the organization, I think can be best shown in our chartered purposes. We have seven chartered purposes and No. 3 is ‘to perpetuate the memory and history of our dead and to assist their surviving spouses and orphans,’” said Johnathan Duncan, who is the director of administrative operations at the VFW's national headquarters, located in Kansas City, Missouri. “That first part of chartered purpose three we do largely with the ceremonial funeral honors. The 21-gun salutes are used to perpetuate the memory and history of our dead, and to recognize the fallen comrades who gave all.

“I think it is a critical service to the families whether they are members of the organization or not,” Duncan added. “We are able to provide these honors because of the ceremonial ammo and rifles that are provided to us.”

JMC provides ceremonial ammo to 564 different American Legions, and Nick Riffel, who is a member of the National Security staff for the American Legion, echoes Duncan’s sentiments about the ceremonial ammo and rifle program.

“This program has been a bedrock of the Legion for many years and will continue to be with our trusted partnership,” Riffel said. “Last year alone, more than 500,000-plus bullets, 50,000-plus clips, 10,000-plus rifles, and over 100 static displays have been donated to posts across America.

“The Legion is happy to have the ceremonial donations program,” he added.

Legion posts located in the state of Nebraska utilize the ceremonial ammo and rifle program the most.

“I could not be prouder of the Legionnaires that make up the honor guards throughout our 352 posts in Nebraska,” said David Salak, who is the department adjutant for the American Legion in the “Cornhusker State.” “Day in and day out, no matter the weather conditions, our dedicated veterans are showing up at funerals to honor those that we lost. These Legionnaires are also attending parades, high school ballgames and other civic events so that our Nation’s flag is properly presented to the public at opening ceremonies.”

A traditional mission

Providing ammunition for ceremonies is a traditional mission for JMC. Since the end of World War II, the Army has been supplying ceremonial ammunition to veterans’ organizations to conduct military honors for their fallen comrades.

“This partnership has been around since 1937 and currently the VFW has possession of 46,599 rifles and 133,575 rifles have been issued to VFW posts since 1937,” Duncan said. “This relationship between JMC, TACOM, and the VFW is a cherished one and a valuable one to not only the VFW but those families who are able to have VFW honor guards at the funerals of those who gave so much to this country."

Telacy Biles, who is a logistics management specialist for JMC, notes requests for ceremonial ammo have increased in recent years.

“It has gone up because you have a lot of people who have gotten older, so the veterans’ organizations see an increase in funerals,” said Biles, who handles all the ceremonial ammo inquires for JMC. “It may be a bit more ammo this year.

“I think the services all the organizations — the VFW, American Legion, Marine Corps League and all the other ones — provide are a very important aspect,” Biles added. “They’re able to honor our Veterans. They’re doing a great service. They’re filling a large gap, a large void.”

How do orgs get ceremonial ammo, rifles?

The ceremonial rifle and ammunition program is conducted in accordance with Title 10, United States Code § 4683 (as implemented by Army Regulation 700-131). Only authorized organizations that have been issued weapons through TACOM, located in Warren, Michigan, are eligible to order, receive, and use blank ammunition and/or clips. Due to safety concerns, privately owned rifles or those borrowed from another organization are not authorized to receive blank ammo and/or clips.

Ammunition and clips can only be shipped to the residential address of an officer or other approved individual and not to posts. Clips must be ordered in multiples of 25 with the max being 100 clips per order. Accepted organizations can receive one or two cases of ammunition per request. Each case has 1,240 rounds.

The best way turn in request forms — which can be found online — for ceremonial ammo/clips is by doing so via email JMC. Using email means about a four week wait until orders are delivered. If forms are mailed, it could take eight weeks or more.

“The thing is just making sure all the information is in the books, and it is the most accurate and up to date,” said Biles, who was in the Army for three years and began his Civilian career in 2009. “The process is a lot simpler than it once was.”

Ceremonial rifle requests must be submitted to TACOM, and it may take up to 120 days to process them. Dating back to 2010, the current static waiting list is at almost 400. Ceremonial rifles must be maintained by the organizations that possess them, but TACOM oversees issuing replacements.

For ceremonial ammo/clip request forms and more information, check out: The United States Army | Joint Munitions Command

Ceremonial rifle request forms can be found at: Ceremonial Rifle Program (army.mil)