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Funeral Directors and Planners


Funeral directors and planners help survivors by overseeing funeral services and providing support and guidance to family members during their time of need. Their duties include making arrangements for burial and cremation, educating families on available veterans benefits, coordinating military funeral honors and ensuring that families have all the forms and legal paperwork they need. The following guide offers resources to help with this process.

Military Funeral Honors

Funeral planners or family members of eligible deceased veterans may request military funeral honors by contacting a representative at the number listed in the Military Funeral Honors Directory for their area.

To establish a veteran’s eligibility for military funeral honors, a DD Form 214, “Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty,” or any discharge document showing honorable service, is required. This flyer offers step-by-step instructions on how to obtain a DD Form 214.

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Expedite military records.

Funeral directors and planners can fill out the Military Records for Veterans Burial and Funeral Benefits Form to request expedited military records from the National Archives and Records Administration. Copies of a veteran’s DD Form 214 can be requested online at no cost — which can be used to verify military service. If records were destroyed in the St. Louis, Missouri, fire of 1973, the NARA will provide a verification letter.


The following FAQs provide guidance for funeral directors and planners regarding military funeral honors protocol and procedures.

If you receive a request for funeral honors for a PHS member, the point of contact can be reached in the Retired Pay Section at 800-772-8724. For NOAA members, contact the director of the Commissioned Personnel Center at 301-713-3444.

Funeral honors for these members include the playing of “Taps” and the folding and presentation of the flag. It will not include the firing of three volleys, as the deceased was a member of the uniformed services but not the armed forces.

Military funeral honors for PHS and NOAA members who previously served in the armed forces may also include the firing of three volleys if resources are available.

There are no restrictions on providing a flag to a convicted felon, unless that person:

  • Has been convicted of a federal capital crime and sentenced to death or life imprisonment
  • Has been convicted of a state capital crime and sentenced to death or life imprisonment without parole
  • Has committed a federal or state capital crime but has not been convicted of such crime by reason of being unavailable for trial due to death or flight to avoid prosecution
  • Has been convicted of a federal or state crime as a tier-III sex offender, and is sentenced to a minimum of life imprisonment

More information is available in Title 38, U.S. Code, Section 2301, and Code of Federal Regulations 1.10.

While there isn’t a standard answer to cover all instances, the general guidance is that the folded flag should be displayed on a table near the head end of a closed casket, and when a half- or full-couch casket is opened, the flag should be placed in the lid at the head end of the casket and just above the decedent’s left shoulder.

No. But items can be placed next to the flag.

On a closed casket, the flag should be placed lengthwise, with the union (stars) at the head and over the left shoulder of the deceased.

When a full-couch casket is opened, the flag should be removed, folded to the triangular shape of a cocked hat and placed in the lid at the head end of the casket and just above the decedent’s left shoulder.

When a half-couch casket is opened, the flag should be folded on the lower half of the casket in the same relative position as when displayed full-length on a closed casket. The Defense Department would have a single fold. Many funeral homes may use more than one fold, but the blue field needs to remain visible and on the left side. See the illustration below.

Yes. If a funeral honors detail has not been provided by the military or performed by a local veterans service organization, the funeral director may fold the flag and present it to the family. For more information on how to fold and present the flag, review the Military Funeral Honors Flag Presentation Protocol Brochure.

If you have the deceased veteran’s Social Security number, you can contact the military service point of contact and they can assist. See our Military Funeral Honors Directory for contact information.

Yes. National Guard members are eligible for funeral honors under the provisions of Title 10, Section 1491. Specific eligibility is established in Title 38, Sections 101(21-24) e.

There are no distance limitations established by the DOD. However, some military units have established limits. In either case, the distance to a funeral service is not an acceptable reason for the military to not perform the honors. When confronted with this response, contact the appropriate Military Funeral Honors Program manager for resolution.

If the requested military unit cannot perform the honors as requested, they should identify another unit that can. If confronted with this situation, contact the appropriate Military Funeral Honors Program manager for assistance.

Other documentation that reflects honorable service is acceptable.

Use this Customer Support form to send us your comments or report any technical difficulties you experience finding information on our websites or applications.

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