LOUDON, Tenn. (WATE) — Mike Schack has been involved in the Loudon County Honor Guard since 2014. A couple years later, his wife, Anita Schack officially joined their mission.

“To be standing by my side doing it, it’s terrific,” Mike said.

Anita is often the bugler, but she also reads and takes part in flag folding in Loudon County honor services. It adds to the stress of work and being grandparents, but they say the experience has made them closer.

Mike is an Army veteran, who served from 1984-1988 in the criminal investigation command. He is passionate about honoring other veterans, as he feels they deserve the honor of having taps played, three-volley, and a flag on their casket, or by their urn if they’re cremated.

While her military experience is that of the wife of a veteran, and having come from a family of service, Anita takes as a lot of personal pride in honoring the men and women who have served their country.

She pointed out it isn’t an easy call to answer.

“You have to go where Uncle Sam needs you,” Anita said. “You can’t say no. You don’t have an option. Once you sign up, or you get drafted, you just go where you’re need and you do what is needed.”

She also noted it isn’t easy for a wife either, given their spouse doesn’t get regular breaks and often times isn’t accessible by phone when deployed.

Honors are provided free for families, but at a cost to the local, volunteer honor guard. The guard gives families two plaques and a three-volley memento.

The honor guard also provides uniforms. Commander Schack estimated the cost for each uniform at $650. That cost is after working with retailers to bring down the price. They hope to soon be able to invest in new blazers and overcoats.

They typically provide 50 to 75 services in a year. This year, due to COVID-19, they’ve done 32. They’re also down in membership. Of their 38 members, Schack noted, 10 are out due to illness or COVID-19 related concerns. While monetary donations are appreciated, the guard needs willing volunteers to donate their time just as badly. To help, you can find them on Facebook.

Anita takes pride in helping.

“You want to do everything correctly and to the best of your ability. It may not always be perfect. There may be glitches sometimes. But you just have to do your best,” she said.

She also takes pride in serving alongside the men and women in the guard.

“I hear all these stories and it makes me just want to do more for the veterans,” Anita said. “Some have seen combat, others haven’t, and they’ve all done the job that they were meant to do, that they needed to do. It just makes me want to try to do more.”

Operation Honor Guard