Who gets flag-draped caskets?

by Janine Wonnacott

Flag-draped coffins are permitted for active-duty military service members, veterans, and some civilians, including the president and some members of Congress.


All veterans who were discharged other than "dishonorably" are allowed military funeral honors, including a flag draped over their coffin. The funeral director may request form DD Form 214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty) from the Defense Department for verification.

Active Duty and Selective Reserve

Men and women on active duty or in the Selective Reserve may also be buried with military honors, including a flag-draped coffin.

State Officials

The president of the United States, as commander in chief, is permitted a military burial with a flag-draped coffin.

Lying in Honor and Lying in State

Select members of Congress who are given the privilege of lying in state are honored with a flag draped over their coffins. Other civilians can be given the privileged of lying in honor, which also allows for a flag-draped coffin. These privileged viewings are not given automatically, for example to all members of Congress, and they may be denied if the family prefers a quieter, private burial.

After the Funeral

The flag is never buried with the coffin. Instead, the flag is folded 13 times in a triangle and presented to the deceased's next of kin.


About the Author

Janine Wonnacott has an MA in psychology from Catholic U. She earned a BA in psychology and a minor in economics from Georgetown U. She has published in Military History, Games, Bethesda Magazine, and Washington Families. She lives in Virginia.

Photo Credits

  • Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Beverly