Last updated 7/26/2017 at 3:19pm | View PDF
Upon a veteran's death, the Veterans Administration (VA) provides a United States flag honoring the veteran's military service. The flag will drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran who (provided they were not dishonorably discharged):
• Served during wartime;
• Died on active duty after May 27, 1941;
• Served after January 31, 1955;
• Were discharged or released before June 27, 1950;
• Served in the organized military forces of the Commonwealth of the Philippines while in the service of the U.S. Armed Forces and who died on or after April 25, 1951; or
• Served on the Selected Reserves (certain former members).
If convicted of a capital crime after discharge from service, a deceased veteran becomes ineligible for a burial flag.
After the ceremony, the next of kin usually receives the flag as a keepsake. If burial takes place in a national, state or post cemetery, it is provided automatically; in Tulare county private cemeteries, the funeral home provides flags. You can also get a flag at a U.S. Post Office by completing a VA Form 27-2008, "Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes," which you then submit to the post office with a copy of the veteran's DD-214.
No matter how the burial flag is obtained, the law only allows the VA to provide one flag; they cannot replace lost, stolen, destroyed or donated flags. Because they are made of cotton, they cannot withstand daily outdoor display.
After the veteran's burial, the next of kin receives the flag, folded military style at the cemetery. Often, these flags are donated to cemeteries after the ceremony for special occasions, such as Memorial Day and Veterans Day, as part of the cemetery Avenue of Flags display. Should you wish to donate the flag, contact your chosen facility to make those arrangements.
Ken Cruickshank, the Veterans Services Officer for Tulare County, is a retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer. Contact him at the Veterans Services Office at 3350 W. Mineral King Ave., Visalia; by phone at (559) 713-2880; or by email at KCruicks@tularehhsa.org