Fargo Memorial Honor Guard pushes back against VA volunteer requirements

The Fargo Memorial Honor Guard and the VA are at a standoff because of some rule changes.

FARGO, N.D. (KVRR) – The Fargo Memorial Honor Guard and the VA are at a standoff because of some rule changes.

Emails we received detail the onboarding process for volunteers involved in military burials at Fargo National Cemetery. We spoke with a leader who says mandatory screenings are overstepping boundaries.

The screening process is recommended by The Center for Development and Civic Engagement.

“We are not part of the Veterans Administration. We are not owned by them so to speak. We go out there we do the military honors and we go home,” Sergeant of the Guard with the Fargo Memorial Honor Guard Marvin Nicklay said.

Nicklay says the screening has been optional since 2019, but that changed this year.

“All of a sudden it’s mandatory and everybody’s got to be onboarded. By onboarded it means you got to be fingerprinted, photo taken, have an ID,” Nicklay said.

Onboarding is supposed to be completed by all volunteers no later than August 31st. There are consequences if they don’t.

“We’d be no longer part of the Veterans Administration volunteer program,” Nicklay said.

The Honor Guard pushes back saying they should be able to screen members. Nicklay says in one email “You wouldn’t run a company and allow outside people to interview potential candidates, so why would they?”

Some feel this is retaliation towards Commander Jason Hicks who has been vocal about his disapproval of the outhouse proposal at the cemetery.

“We move forward as adults. We’ve got to carry on because what we’re doing, what we’re doing is for the deceased and the deceased families. Not for the VA or anybody else. We’re doing for the families. They come first. We’re there for them they can call us, if we get a call, we go. We don’t, whatever the weather is we’re there,” Nicklay said.

Nicklay says this won’t change things too much. The Honor Guard will still be booked through families and funeral homes. They have two burials on Friday.

Categories: Local News, North Dakota News