Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System
Providing Burial Flags for Oklahoma Veterans
Since 1962, VA has provided millions of burial flags to the families of deceased Veterans in recognition of their honorable service to the nation. In the past few years alone, VA has distributed more than 600,000 flags annually.
Every Veteran who was discharged from the military “under conditions other than dishonorable” is eligible to receive a 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.
Typically, funeral home directors will help next-of-kin fill out a VA application form for a flag and will then take the application to a nearby post office where flags are on hand. Once a flag is given to a funeral home, the post office submits a replacement request to VA.
In Oklahoma, the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center (JCMVAMC) is responsible for supplying flags to every post office in the state. In 2011, the medical center shipped an estimated 7,600 flags.
Logistics Service purchases flags from the General Services Administration, which are required by law to measure exactly five feet by nine feet, six inches and be completely manufactured in the United States from raw domestic materials.
When the mail room receives a replacement request from post offices, JCMVAMC employees Randy Hebb, Melvin Cullum and Jacob Chavez immediately ship a replacement.
“We give it our highest priority, because it is very important that each Veteran who passes receives a burial flag,” said Hebb, a materials handler who works in the mail room. “It’s such an important thing.”
On June 25, the mail room received 44 replacement requests from post offices throughout the state and mailed out 44 flags the same day.
“These came in today and they’re going out today” said Hebb, who has worked in the mail room since 1988. “That’s our rule of thumb, to get them out the same day.
Hebb, an Army Veteran who served in combat in Vietnam, has shipped thousands of flags throughout his career and said it is a duty he takes great pride in.
“To see a casket wrapped in our American flag is absolutely beautiful,” said Hebb, who served with the U.S. Army 554th Light Maintenance Company in Qui Nhon, Vietnam from Dec. 1966 to Dec. 1967. “It’s just an honor to do this.”
For more information about burial flags and eligibility information, please visit: http://www.cem.va.gov/bbene/bflags.asp