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U.S. flag retirement drop box now available at VA Bedford HCS

Two men standing behind a box decorated with stars and stripes in red, white, and blue
Army Veteran Greg Michel and Marine Corps Veteran Scott McLaughlan, both VA Bedford staff members, created a U.S. flag retirement drop box for use by Veterans, employees, and members of the community. The drop box is located in the main hospital in front of the VA Police station on the Bedford campus . (VA photo by Kat Bailey)

BEDFORD, Massachusetts--If this spring finds your U.S. flag tattered, worn, or torn, bring it to VA Bedford Healthcare System for proper disposal in our new flag retirement drop box, available to all members of the community.

The United States has a set of laws pertaining to U.S. flag disposal known as the U.S. Flag Code. The Code states that if the flag is not in good enough condition to represent our country, it should be taken down and destroyed. 

But few people know what to do with old American flags. What is the proper way to retire an American flag? Whatever you do, you should not throw your flag in the garbage.

The flag retirement drop box at VA Bedford HCS is a service newly offered to ensure worn flags get thrown away properly. Army Veteran and VA Bedford staff member Greg Michel came up with the idea.

“I noticed some flags left for me in the recycle bins at work for disposal and thought other employees and Veterans might also have flags that need to be properly disposed of,” Michel, a materials handler, said. “I wanted to create a drop off option that was accessible to everyone.”

Flag drop boxes are generally available at local Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts.

“It only made sense to make one available at the local VA hospital where Veterans come on a routine basis,” he said.

Michel and Marine Corps Veteran and fellow VA employee Scott McLaughlan sat down and brainstormed ideas for the flag retirement drop box design.

“I had the materials, tools, and skills to build out our vision,” McLaughlan said. “As a Veteran myself, how could I not help support this project to honor our nation’s flags? As an American, I think it’s important to treat these emblems with respect and retire them with dignity.”

Michel will take the collected flags to the American Legion for proper disposal in accordance with U.S. Code.

The flag retirement drop box is available in The Crossroads in front of the VA Police Station in building 78 of Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans’ Hospital, located at 200 Springs Road, Bedford, Massachusetts, 01730, during regular hospital hours. Employees may also submit a request to Environmental Management Services for flag pick up.

Visit the health services page of our public website to see what other services VA Bedford Healthcare System offers. 

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