38 CFR § 1.10 - Eligibility for and disposition of the United States flag for burial purposes.
(a) Eligibility for burial flags -
(1) Persons eligible.
(i) A veteran of any war, of Mexican border service, or of service after January 31, 1955, discharged or released from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable. (For the purpose of this section, the term Mexican border service means active military, naval, or air service during the period beginning on January 1, 1911, and ending on April 5, 1917, in Mexico, on the borders thereof, or in the waters adjacent thereto.)
(ii) A peacetime veteran discharged or released, before June 27, 1950, from the active military, naval, or air service, under conditions other than dishonorable, after serving at least one enlistment, or for a disability incurred or aggravated in line of duty.
(iii) Any person who has died while in military or naval service of the United States after May 27, 1941. This subdivision authorizes and requires the furnishing of a flag only where the military or naval service does not furnish a flag immediately. The only cases wherein a flag is not supplied immediately are those of persons whose remains are interred outside the continental limits of the United States, or whose remains are not recovered or are recovered and not identified.
(iv) Any person who served in the organized military forces of the Commonwealth of the Philippines while such forces were in the service of the Armed Forces of the United States pursuant to the military order of the President of the United States, dated July 26, 1941, including among such military forces organized guerrilla forces under commanders appointed, designated, or subsequently recognized by the Commander in Chief, Southwest Pacific Area, or other competent authority in the Army of the United States, and who dies after separation from such service under conditions other than dishonorable, on or after April 25, 1951.
(v) Any deceased member or former member of the Selected Reserve (as described in section 10143 of title 10) who is not otherwise eligible for a flag under this section or section 1482(a) of title 10 and who:
(A) Completed at least one enlistment as a member of the Selected Reserve or, in the case of an officer, completed the period of initial obligated service as a member of the Selected Reserve;
(B) Was discharged before completion of the person's initial enlistment as a member of the Selected Reserve or, in the case of an officer, period of initial obligated service as a member of the Selected Reserve, for a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty; or
(C) Died while a member of the Selected Reserve.
(b) Disposition of burial flags.
(1) When a flag is actually used to drape the casket of a deceased veteran, it must be delivered to the next of kin following interment. Where the flag is not claimed by the next of kin it may be given upon request to a close friend or associate of the deceased veteran. Such action will constitute final and conclusive determination of rights under this section. (38 U.S.C. 2301)
(2) The phrase next of kin for the purpose of disposing of the flag used for burial purposes is defined as follows, with preference to entitlement in the order listed:
(i) Widow or widower.
(ii) Children, according to age (minor child may be issued a flag on application signed by guardian).
(iii) Parents, including adoptive, stepparents, and foster parents.
(iv) Brothers or sisters, including brothers or sisters of the halfblood.
(v) Uncles or aunts.
(vi) Nephews or nieces.
(vii) Others - cousins, grandparents, etc. (but not in-laws).
(3) The phrase close friend or associate for the purpose of disposing of the burial flag means any person who because of his or her relationship with the deceased veteran arranged for the burial or assisted in the burial arrangements. In the absence of a person falling in either of these categories, any person who establishes by evidence that he or she was a close friend or associate of the veteran may be furnished the burial flag. Where more than one request for the burial flag is received and each is accompanied by satisfactory evidence of relationship or association, the head of the field facility having jurisdiction of the burial flag quota will determine which applicant is the one most equitably entitled to the burial flag.