The Wisconsin National Guard became aware late Feb. 17 of controversial and distasteful photos and comments related to military funeral honors posted on social media websites.
One photo shows a group of Soldiers - including one from the Wisconsin Army National Guard - in Army Combat Uniforms, posing disrespectfully around a flag-draped training casket. The caption for another photo suggests that the cold weather at a military funeral may result in a poor folding of the U.S. flag to be presented.
The photos appeared on a social media site that belonged to Spc. Terry Harrison - a member of the Madison, Wis.-based 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment. The group photo with the training casket was taken at the Professional Education Center, a National Guard training facility in North Little Rock, Ark.
Harrison has been indefinitely suspended from the funeral honors detail pending an investigation into the matter.
While the photos and comments do not portray any misconduct during the performance of actual military funeral honors, Maj. Paul Rickert, the Wisconsin National Guard's director of public affairs, said he understands that their content is upsetting to many. The Wisconsin National Guard expects all Soldiers who carry out this sacred detail to handle it with professionalism and honor, he said.
"A military funeral is the final show of respect for our veterans and their families, and we take that solemn duty very seriously," Rickert said. "The very name 'military funeral honors' underscores the importance we ascribe - both as the military and society at large - to such solemn occasions. These photos and comments do not appear to align with those values."
"We expect all of our Soldiers and Airmen to live by a core set of values, in word and deed," Maj. Gen. Donald P. Dunbar, the Wisconsin adjutant general said. "I was appalled by the offensive photos and comments that appeared on this Soldier's social media site regarding her duties as a funeral honor guard member."
Dunbar ordered an investigation into the matter.
The National Guard has taken measures to ensure the safety of the Soldier following threats the Soldier received via social media.
The investigation into this matter is ongoing.