Many of the freedoms we enjoy today descend from the sacrifices of the men and women in the United States Armed Forces. When a veteran passes away, the service is treated with utmost respect. Military veterans also qualify for an array of benefits that range from monetary to educational assistance. In remembrance of those who have honorably served, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs awards a burial flag, at no cost, to drape the casket or accompany the urn of the deceased. In this guide, we explain who is entitled to a U.S. burial flag, so you and your loved ones might find the perfect way to honor your loved one and his or her service.

Who is entitled to a U.S. burial flag?

The V.A. provides a flag to all deceased veterans of the Armed Forces, except for veterans who were dishonorably discharged. The burial flag is usually given to the veteran’s next of kin, so it can be used in accordance with a funeral or ash scattering ceremony. Furthermore, your funeral director can help you apply for burial benefits or plot interment allowances. According to the Office of Acquisition and Logistics (OAL), a veteran qualifies if he or she:

  1. Served during wartime.
  2. Died on active duty after May 27, 1941.
  3. Served after January 31, 1955.
  4. Discharged or released before June 27, 1950.
  5. Died on or after April 25, 1951, certain persons who served in the organized military forces of the Commonwealth of the Philippines while in service of the Armed Forces.
  6. Certain veterans of the Selected Reserves.

If you or a loved one who served in the military meet any of those qualifications, you are entitled to a U.S. burial flag and must complete the Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes form. Once the application is completed and approved, you can get the burial flag at the nearest V.A. regional office or U.S. Post Office. If your post office has a difficult time keeping flags on hand, you can direct them to contact the V.A. Service and Distribution Center to stock up on a sufficient number of flags. Anyone who certifies by the signature of the eligibility of the deceased veteran can complete the flag application, or you might employ the services of a funeral director.

Every veteran receives one flag, so your memorial flag can’t be replaced if it’s lost, destroyed, or stolen. There are so many types of organizations that may be able to help you recover another flag for your loved one’s memorial. Losing a child, parent, or spouse to the tragedies of wartime can be very difficult and extremely emotional. We hope that this guide provides more information about flag eligibility for deceased veterans.