Veterans & Military Honors

On January 1, 2000, the Department of Defense began the implementation plan for providing military funeral honors for eligible veterans as enacted in Section 578 of Public Law 106-65 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2000.

"Honoring Those Who Served" is the title of the DOD program for providing dignified military funeral honors to veterans who have defended our Nation. While military funeral honors are a long-standing tradition within the Armed Forces, this DOD program is in response to the new law governing funeral honors for eligible veterans.

Upon the family's request, the law requires that every eligible veteran receive a military funeral honors ceremony to include folding and presenting the United States burial flag and the playing of Taps. The law defines a military funeral honors detail as consisting of two or more uniformed military persons with at least one a member of the veteran's parent service of the Armed Forces. The DOD program calls for funeral home directors to request military funeral honors on behalf of the veterans' family. Veterans organizations may assist in the provision of military funeral honors. When military funeral honors at a national cemetery are desired, they are arranged prior to the committal service by the funeral home.

Questions or comments concerning the DOD military funeral honors program may be sent to the address listed below. A military funeral honors web site is located at www.militaryfuneralhonors.osd.mil.

Veteran Headstones and Markers

The VA furnishes upon request, at no charge to the applicant, a Government headstone or marker for the grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world. For all deaths occurring before December 27, 2001, the VA may provide a headstone or marker only for graves that are not marked with a private headstone.

Burial Flags for Veterans

A United States flag is provided, at no cost, to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran who served honorably in the U. S. Armed Forces. It is furnished to honor the memory of a veteran's military service to his or her country. Eligibility for Former Members of Selected Reserve were added by Section 571 of Public Law 105-261.

Who is eligible to receive the Burial Flag?

Generally, the flag is given to the next-of-kin, as a keepsake, after its use during the funeral service. When there is no next-of-kin, VA will furnish the flag to a friend making request for it. For those VA national Cemeteries with an Avenue of Flags, families of veterans buried in these national cemeteries may donate the burial flags of their loved ones to be flown on patriotic holidays.

How do I apply?

You may apply for the flag by completing VA Form 21-2008, Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes. You may get a flag at any VA regional office or U.S. Post Office. Generally, the funeral director will help you. When burial is in a national, state or post cemetery a burial flag will be provided.

Can a Burial Flag be replaced?

The law allows us to issue one flag for a veteran's funeral. We cannot replace it if it is lost, destroyed, or stolen. However, some veterans' organizations or other community groups may be able to help you get another flag.

How should the Burial Flag be displayed?

The proper way to display the flag depends upon whether the casket is open or closed. VA Form 21-2008 provides the correct method for displaying and folding the flag. The burial flag is not suitable for outside display because of its size and fabric. It is made of cotton and can easily be damaged by weather.