The official blog of American Veteran Magazine, the national quarterly publication of AMVETS.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Boccieri Service Flag Bill Passes House

Congressman John Boccieri (D-Ohio), a veteran of the war in Iraq and life member of AMVETS Post No. 44 in Youngstown, Ohio, today announced the House passage of legislation he introduced to prevent restrictions on the display of Service flags. H.R. 2546, the Blue Star/Gold Star Flag Act of 2009 ensures the rights of individuals to display a Service flag on residential property without limitation. H.R. 2546 has more than 50 bipartisan cosponsors, including 22 Republicans.

“The Service flag is a symbol of respect for our military members who put their lives on the line only because their country asked them to,” said Boccieri. “As a veteran, I am proud to champion this important measure for military families, giving them the right to honor their soldiers’ sacrifices, no matter where they live.”

The Service flag, sometimes referred to as either the Blue Star or Gold Star flag is an official banner authorized by the Department of Defense for display by families of members serving in the armed forces during a period of war. Each blue star on the flag represents a service member in active duty, while a gold star signifies a service member killed in action or who died in service.

Boccieri’s bill is similar to the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005 which prohibits a condominium association, cooperative association, or residential real estate management association from preventing residents from displaying the American flag on or around their homes. Boccieri’s bill extends these same privileges to the Service flags.

According to regulations established by the Secretary of Defense, organizations can fly the Service flag as long as it honors the members of that organization serving during a period of war. The Ohio House of Representatives displayed a Service flag for then-State Representative Boccieri and State Senator Steve Stivers while they deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in 2004-2005.

AMVETS, which was a vocal supporter of the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005, also supports Boccieri's bill, allowing Blue Star and Gold Star families to display their flags without recourse from housing associations or other groups.

"It's ridiculous for these associations to attempt to prohibit proud military families--particularly Gold Star families--from demonstrating support to their loved ones and honoring their sacrifices," said AMVETS National Legislative Director Ray Kelley. "AMVETS hopes that this bill moves through the legislative process quickly, so we can protect the rights of our military families, putting an end to this petty squabble once and for all."

Now, Boccieri's bill will head to the Senate for consideration. American Veteran will follow developments closely. Check back regularly for updates.

(Video: Congressman John Boccieri delivers remarks on the House floor on why the passage of the service flag protection act is important to him. Video courtesy of the Office of Congressman John Boccieri.)

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