Who is Entitled to a U.S. Burial Flag?
The Veterans Administration provides several burial benefits to deceased veterans who honorably served in the armed forces for the United States. One such benefit is a United States burial flag. These burial flags are provided as a way to honor the memory of departed Veteranís military service to his or her country.
Who is Eligible to Receive a Burial Flag?
Generally veterans who were honorably discharged are eligible. Eligible veterans include:
- Veterans who had served during wartime
- A Veteran who was killed on active duty after May 27, 1941
- Veterans who served after January 31, 1955
- A peacetime Veteran discharged or released before June 27, 1950
- Certain persons who served in the organized military forces of the Commonwealth of the Philippines while in service of the United States Armed Forces and who were killed on or after April 25, 1951
- Certain former members of the Selected Reserves
Who is Not Eligible for a Burial Flag?
Veteranís who were dishonorably discharged are not entitled to a burial flag. Also excluded from receiving a burial flag are:
- Members of the Selected Reserve whose last discharge from service was under conditions less favorable than honorable
- Peacetime veterans who were discharged before June 27, 1950 and did not serve at least one complete enlistment or incur or aggravate a disability in the line of duty
- Veterans who were convicted of a Federal capital crime and sentenced to death or life imprisonment, or were convicted of a State capital crime and sentenced to death or life imprisonment without parole, or were found to have committed a Federal or State capital crime but were not convicted by reason of not being available for trial due to death or flight to avoid prosecution
- Discharged or rejected draftees, or members of the National Guard, who reported to camp in answer to the President's call for World War I service but who, when medically examined, were not finally accepted for military service
- Persons who were discharged from World War I service prior to November 12, 1918, on their own application or solicitation by reason of being an alien, or any veterans discharged for alienage during a period of hostilities.
- Persons who served with any of the forces allied with the United States in any war, even though United States citizens, if they did not serve with the United States armed forces.
- Persons inducted for training and service who, before entering such training and service were transferred to the Enlisted Reserve Corps and given a furlough.
- Former temporary members of the United States Coast Guard Reserve.
Who is Given the Burial Flag?
Typically the burial flag is given to the next of kin such as a spouse or surviving child at the close of the funeral service. The burial flag is intended to be a sort of keepsake. If there is no next of kin available to receive the flag, the VA will furnish the flag to a friend who makes a request for it. Families may choose to donate their loved oneís burial flag to a VA National Cemetery which has an Avenue of Flags. These flags are usually flown on patriotic holidays at the cemeteries.
Applying For A Flag
Usually surviving family members go through their funeral director for the burial flag when planning the funeral service. If not going through the funeral home you can apply for the burial flag by downloading and completing VA form 27-2008 Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes. You can get a flag at any regional office or U.S. Post Office.
The Veterans Administration can issue only one burial flag for a veteranís funeral as provided by law. If the flag is lost, stolen or destroyed it cannot be replaced. However, some Veteranís organizations or other community groups may be able to help you get another flag. Additionally, you can find online companies that sell burial flags.
How is The Burial Flag Displayed?
During the funeral a burial flag is displayed on the casket in the following manner:
Half Couch (Open) - When the flag is used to drape a half-couch casket, it should be placed in three layers to cover the closed half of the casket in such a manner that the blue field will be the top fold, next to the open portion of the casket on the deceased's left.
Full Couch (Open) - When the flag is used to drape a full-couch casket, it should be folded in a triangular shape and placed in the center part of the head panel of the casket cap, just above the left shoulder of the deceased.
At the conclusion of the military honors funeral service the flag is handed to the next of kin to be kept as a keepsake. Family members typically will purchase a burial flag case to display the flag in their home.