The basic Military Funeral Honors (MFH) ceremony consists of the folding and presentation of the United States Flag to the veterans’ family and the playing of the Taps. The ceremony is preformed by a funeral honors detail consisting of at least two members of the Armed Forces.
The funeral honors rendered to you or your veteran will be determined by the status of the veteran. The type of funeral honors may be Full Military Honors, 7 Person Detail or a Standard Honors Team Detail. At least one of the funeral honors details will be from the Armed Force in which the deceased veteran served. Taps may be played by a bugler or, if a bugler is not available, by a quality recorded version. Military Funeral Honor Teams may act as pallbearers if requested by the veteran/family.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) furnishes upon request, at no charge to the applicant, a government headstone or marker for the unmarked grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world, regardless of their date of death. For eligble veterans that died on or after Nov. 1, 1990, VA may also provide a headstone or marker for graves that are already marked with a private headstone or marker. When the grave is already marked, applicants will have the option to apply for either a traditional headstone or marker, or a medallion.
Flat markers in granite, marble and bronze and upright headstones in granite and marble are available. The style chosen must be consistent with existing monument at the place of burial. Niche markers are also available to mark columbaria used for inurnment of cremated remains.
When burial or memorialization is in a national cemetery, state veterans’ cemetery, or military post/base cemetery, a headstone or marker will be ordered by the cemetery officials based on inscription information provided by the next-of-kin or authorized representative.
Spouses and dependents are not eligible for a government-furnished headstone or marker unless they are buried in a national cemetery, state veteran’s cemetery, or military post/ base cemetery. Note: There is no charge for the headstone or marker itself, however arrangements for placing it in a private cemetery are the applicant’s responsibility and all setting fees are at the private expense.
Veterans Burial Flag
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 county. VA will furnish a burial flag for memorialization for:
- A veteran who served during wartime
- A veteran who died on active duty after May 27, 1941
- A veteran who served after January 27, 1950
- A peacetime veteran who was 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 U.S. Armed Forces and who died on or after April 25, 1951
- Certain former members of the Selected Reserves
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is eligible for military funeral honors?
- Military members on active duty or in the Selected Reserve
- Former military members who served on active duty and departed under conditions other than dishonorable
- Former military members who completed at least one term of enlistment or period of initial obligated service in the Selected Reserve and departed under conditions other than dishonorable
- Former military members discharged from the Selected Reserve due to a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty
Who is not eligible for military funeral honors?
- Any person separated from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions or whose character of service results in a bar to veteran’s benefits
- Any person who was ordered to report to an induction station, but was not actually inducted into military service
- Any person discharged from the Selected Reserve prior to completing one term of enlistment or period of initial obligated service for reasons other than a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.
- Any person convicted of a federal or state capital crime sentenced to death or life imprisonment.
How do I establish veteran eligibility?
The preferred method is the DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. If the DD Form 214 is not available, any discharge document showing other than dishonorable service can be used. The DD Form 214 may be obtained by filing out a Standard Form 180 and sending to:
National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) 9700 Page Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63132
The Standard Form 180 may be obtained from the National Records Center or via the following website: http://www.archives.gov/research/order/standard-form-180.pdf
Is anyone else eligible to receive funeral honors?
Yes. Members of the Commissioned Officer Corps of Public Health Services (PHS) and National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA), as members of a Uniformed Service, are also eligible to receive funeral honors.
For NOAA personnel, eligibility is established using NOAA Form 56-16, Report of Transfer or Discharge. If the family does not have a copy of the NOAA Form 56-16, it may be obtained by contacting the Chief, Officer Services Division, NOAA Commissioned Personnel Center at (301) 713-7715 or by writing:
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Personnel Center
Chief, Officer Services Division (CPC1)
1315 East-West Highway, Room 12100, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910
For PHS personnel, funeral honors eligibility is established using PHS Form 1867, Statement of Service (equivalent to the DD Form 214). If the family does not have a copy of the Statement of Service, it may be obtained by contacting the Privacy Coordinator for the Commissioned Corps at (240) 453-6041 or by writing:
Division of Commissioned Personnel/HRS/PSC
Attention: Privacy Act Coordinator
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, Maryland 20857
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 a request for it. For the VA national cemeteries with an Avenue of Flags, families of veterans buried in these national cemeteries may donate the burial flag of their loved ones to be flown on patriotic holidays.
How can you apply?
You may apply for the flag by completing the VA Form 27-2008, 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 obtain the flag.
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. The VA Form 27-2008 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.