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Casket Controversy; AR Guard Member Suspended

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR - An Arkansas Army National Guard soldier has been suspended (see official news release below) over a casket photo incident that has created outrage this week.
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR - An Arkansas Army National Guard soldier has been suspended (see official news release below) over a casket photo incident that has created outrage this week.

The photo (above) taken at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock during training for a military funeral honor guard, ended up on social media and was seen by people all across the country. The picture shows uniformed officers surrounding an empty flag-draped casket.

Officials at Camp Robinson are not identifying the suspended soldier but say they've been with the Guard for four years.

On Wednesday, the leader of the Wisconsin National Guard issued a statement saying that a soldier under his command who was also in the photo had been suspended and an investigation was under way. Click here for that story.

OFFICIAL NEWS RELEASE:
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The Arkansas National Guard has confirmed that one of the soldiers in a photograph posted on a social media site by a Wisconsin National Guardsman is a member of the Arkansas Army National Guard.

The photograph was taken at the National Guard Bureau's Professional Education Center earlier this month.

"As members of the military community we take this matter very seriously," said Maj. Matt Snead, state public affairs officer for the Arkansas National Guard, "the soldier has been suspended from military funeral honors duty and an investigation is underway."

The fourteen soldiers came from various states to attend military funeral honors training at the Professional Education Center, a national training center located at Camp Robinson. The Professional Education Center falls under the umbrella of the Army National Guard, a branch of the National Guard Bureau, located in Arlington, Virginia. The Army National Guard is conducting a separate investigation.

Due to the ongoing investigation and concern for the safety of the Arkansas soldier, the Arkansas National Guard is withholding his identity.

Maj. Gen. William D. Wofford, the adjutant general for Arkansas, issued the following statement:

"I echo the sentiment of my fellow Adjutants General with soldiers involved, and the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, when I say this photograph is deplorable. I am a veteran, my father was a veteran and this is personally offensive to me. To all Arkansans, veterans, military members and especially our families who have lost loved ones, I extend a heartfelt apology for the pain caused by the participation of the soldier under my command in this disgraceful photograph. I have directed an investigation into his involvement and we will take actions to ensure this never happens again."
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