How do I get a burial flag for a veteran?

If your loved one is a veteran and they have recently died or are terminally ill, you may be interested in getting a burial flag for their funeral.

Most funeral directors can help you obtain a flag for a veteran, however you may apply for a flag yourself by completing VA form VA 21-2008 (Application for United States Flag For Burial Purposes). You will need some basic information about your loved one such as their dates of service, as well as a copy of their DD 214. If you cannot obtain the deceased veteran’s discharge papers, the VA notes that a flag may be issued when “a statement is made by a person of established character and reputation that he/she personally knows the deceased to have been a veteran who meets the eligibility criteria.” You may get a flag at any VA regional office or U.S. Post Office.

What eligibility requirements must be met to obtain a flag?

To be eligible for a burial flag, a veteran must have received an “other than dishonorable discharge” and their dates of service must fall under a period that has been included in the VA’s flag program.

Survivors applying for a burial flag on behalf of the veteran must also meet eligibility requirements. Only one flag is issued for each veteran and flag is given to the surviving spouse, first-born children, parents, brothers or sisters, uncles or aunts, nephews or nieces, and more distant relatives. If there is no next-of-kin, friends may request the keepsake flag after the funeral takes place.

Burial flags are not meant to be flown outdoors and cannot be replaced if lost, destroyed or stolen.