FAQs ~ Service Flag and Service Lapel Button
This fact sheet furnishes information concerning service flags and service lapel buttons which are for use
by family members of persons serving in the Armed Forces.
(1) Department of Defense Directive 1348.20, 1 December 1967,
implemented an Act of Congress which authorizes a service flag and a service lapel button
(See 36 U.S.C. 179-182).
(2) The Secretary of the Army has been designated to act as executive agent of the Secretary of Defense for the
purpose of granting certificates of authority for the manufacture and sale of service flags and service lapel
buttons conforming to the approved design described herein; providing appropriate design instructions to
manufacturers; and administering the provisions of Section 181 of the Act referred to in paragraph 1 above,
under which any person, firm, or corporation which manufactures such service flag or service lapel button
without having first obtained a certificate of authority to manufacture, or otherwise violates the provisions of
the Act, shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined not more than $1,000. The Secretary of the Army, in turn, has
delegated to the Director, The Institute of Heraldry, United States Army, responsibility for issuing certificates
governing the manufacture and sale of the service flag and service lapel button.
(3) Portions of the information which follows have been taken from the Department of Defense Directive cited in
paragraph 1 above, and Department of Defense Instruction 1348.33-M, Manual of Military Decorations and Awards,
(1) "Members of the immediate family" include wife, husband, mother, father, stepmother, stepfather, parent
through adoption, foster parents who stand or stood in loco parentis, children, stepchildren, children through
adoption, brothers, sisters, half brothers, and half sisters of a member of the Armed Forces of the United States.
(2) "Organizations" include those group organizations such as churches, schools, colleges, fraternities,
sororities, societies, and places of business with which the member of the Armed Forces was or is associated.
(1) The service flag authorized by the Act may be displayed in a window of the place of residence of persons who
are members of the immediate family of a person serving in the Armed Forces of the United States during any period
of war or hostilities in which the Armed Forces of the United States may be engaged, for the duration of such period
of war or hostilities.
(2) The service flag may be displayed by an organization to honor the members of that organization serving in the
Armed Forces of the United States during any period of war or hostilities in which the Armed Forces of the United
States may be engaged, for the duration of such period of war or hostilities.
(3) The service lapel button authorized by the Act may be worn by members of the immediate family of a person
serving in the Armed Forces of the United States may be engaged, for the duration of such period of war or hostilities.
(1) A design for the service flag is approved as follows:
- Flag for immediate family. On a white rectangular field a blue star or stars within a red border.
- The number of blue stars will correspond to the number of individuals from
the ?immediate family? who are symbolized on the flag.
- The flag horizontally displayed will have the stars arranged in a horizontal
line or lines with one point of star up (figure 1).
- The flag described in 1 and 2 above may be displayed vertically (figure 2).
- If the individual symbolized is killed or dies while serving, from causes
other than dishonorable, the star representing that individual will have superimposed thereon a gold star
of smaller size so that the blue forms a border. On flags displaying multiple stars, including gold stars,
when the flags are suspended, as against a wall, the gold star(s) will be to the right of, or above the blue
star(s) (figure 1 and 4).
- Flag for organizations. The flag for organizations will correspond to that described for an immediate
family member, as above, subject to the following additional provisions:
- Instead of using a separate star for each member, one star may be used
with the number of the members indicated by
Arabic numerals, which will appear below the star (figure 3).
- If any members are deceased (having been killed or died while serving,
from causes other than dishonorable), a gold
star will be placed nearest the staff, or above the blue star in the case of a flag used in a vertical
display (figure 4).
Below this star will be the Arabic numerals.
The fold stars in both cases will be smaller than the blue stars so that the blue will form a border.
The numerals in all cases will be in blue.
- Color and relative proportions. The shades of colors used in the flag and the relative proportions
shall be in accordance
with manufacturing instruction furnished to licensed manufacturers by the Department of the Army.
(2) Service Lapel Button. The service lapel button shall be a blue star on a white rectangular field within
a red border, 3/16 inch by 3/8 inch in overall size (figure 5). The shades of colors and the detailed
dimensions shall be in accordance with manufacturing instructions to licensed manufacturers by the Department
of the Army.
Display of the Service Flag
(1) The service flag shall be treated with dignity and respect. When displayed with the flag of the United
States, the service flag shall be of approximately equal size but never larger than the flag of the United States. The flag of the United States will occupy the position of honor.
(2) When the service flag is displayed other than by being flown from a staff, it will be suspended either
horizontally or vertically.
(3) Users are cautioned against the use of the service flag for advertising purposes. It will not be
embroidered on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, and the like; printed, or otherwise impressed on
paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discarded; or used as any portion
of a costume or athletic uniform. Advertising signs will not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which
the service flag is flown.
(4) For cautions against the improper use of the service flag, users should be guided generally by the
provisions of 36 U.S.C. 176 which apply to the flag of the United States of America.
Wearing of the Service Lapel Button
(1) The blue star of the service lapel button worn by members of the immediate family shall signify that one
or more members are serving in the Armed Forces under the conditions specified in paragraph 3b(3) above.
Multiple blue stars are not authorized.
(2) A person eligible to wear the gold star lapel button may wear the service lapel button in conjunction
therewith if that person is also entitled to wear the service lapel button. A gold star is not authorized
as part of the service lapel button.
Application for Licensing
(1) Applicants who desire to enter into the manufacture and sale of the service flag or the service lapel
button should fill out the
Agreement to Manufacture
and send it to Director, The Institute of Heraldry, 9325 Gunston Road, Room S-112, Fort Belvoir, Virginia 22060-5579.
(2) A certificate of authority to manufacture and sell the service flag or the service lapel button will
be granted only upon receipt of the agreement by the applicant that he/she will not deviate in the manufacture
or sale of the approved official service flag or service lapel button as described herein. The certificate of
authority shall refer to the Act cited in paragraph 1 above and be valid for 5 years from the date of issue.
(3) Drawings and instructions for the service flag and the service lapel button will be provided to
manufacturers with the issuance of their certificate of authority.
Purchase of Service Flag and Service Lapel Button
(1) Service flags and service lapel buttons must be procured from commercial sources. The Government does not
manufacture, issue or sell service flags or service lapel buttons.
(2) Gold Star Family
In accordance with Code of Federal Regulations Title 32 - National Defense
One lapel button will be furnished without cost to the widow or widower, to each of the parents, each child, stepchild, child through adoption, brother, half brother, sister, and half sister of a member of the Armed Forces who lost his or her life while on active duty. The term widow or widower includes those who have since remarried, and the term parents includes mother, father, stepmother, stepfather, mother through adoption, father through adoption, and foster parents who stood in place of a parent. Eligible next of kin may request issue of the lapel button via Standard Form 180 which must be submitted to the National Personnel Record Center (NPRC) (see § 578.16(a)(3)).