Flag honor once kept for military deaths to be extended to government workers

Federal civilian workers who are killed in the line of duty would be eligible flag recognition benefits traditionally reserved for military deaths, under draft regulations unveiled Friday.

The proposed rule, to be published Monday, was written in accordance with the Civilian Service Recognition Act of 2011 as means to recognize those who perish while carrying out federal duties.

“For those civilian employees who die in the course of serving their country, the Act authorizes agency heads to give United States flags to beneficiaries as a way to formally express sympathy and gratitude on behalf of the Nation,” an excerpt of the draft rule reads.

ADVERTISEMENT
Under the proposed rule, executive agencies, the U.S. Postal Service, and the Postal Regulatory Commission may furnish flags on behalf of workers killed in connection with their job as a result of terrorism, other criminal acts or natural disasters.

The president could also determine other circumstances in which the flag presentation would be appropriate.

The regulations set out that survivors of civilians killed must request a flag from the employing agency, but agencies are urged to reach out to families of the fallen workers to provide information and help in obtaining the flags.

Agencies are prohibited from furnishing flags in cases where federal employees die due their own unlawful or negligent actions, willful misconduct or activities unrelated to their work.

Congress approved the measure, penned by Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY), with overwhelming bipartisan support.

“We are a nation that values service and sacrifice, and this law is a tribute to our federal employees who work here at home and in countless overseas posts,” Hanna said in an e-mailed statement. “Presenting a flag may seem modest, but it is significant. A life can never be repaid, but it can be honored.”

A Republican summary of the bill written in September on 2011 said nearly 3,000 federal civilian workers had perished on the job since 1992.

The proposed regulations, crafted by the Office of Personnel Management, gives interested parties and members of the public 60 days comment on the rule after it appears in the Federal Register.