KIA America Remembers
The KIA Honor Flag Program has been in existence since 2003 and benefits families of those in the U.S. military who are killed in combat. It’s a way to honor U.S. soldiers killed in action (KIA), died of wounds (DOW), and any member of the U.S. military, civilian, or public safety who died while serving their country. Eagle Emblems, Inc. is the corporate sponsor of KIA Honor Flags. The flag presentation is “to honor those who have gone before, to support those who served, and to embrace those left behind.” KIA Honor Flags are also offered free of charge to Veteran and American Legion Posts, museums, or similar institutions to honor and remember all Americans killed in action or that have died of wounds resulting from war related injuries.
The KIA Honor Flag Program was born out of one man’s visit to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington. Ghost Soldier #3, (Members prefer to be anonymous as a show of their equality and solidarity as an organization) a veteran himself, was visiting the War Memorial to pay his respects when he noticed a man leave a U.S. flag as a display of his respect and gratitude to those that had fought and died for their country. Ghost Soldier #3 (GS3- Surplus Today abbreviation) asked the man why he chose to leave a U.S. flag at the War Memorial. The man simply replied, “That’s all we have.” So the idea of providing a flag to all war veterans and the families of war veterans left behind was born. The KIA Honor Flag Program has never received any government or VA funding. In fact, the initial funding for the program came from GS3’s retirement funds and survives today on mostly private donations and profits earned from numerous fundraisers.
Today, the KIA Honor Flag Program has expanded to provide families pins, patches and a Veterans Benefits Guidebook published by the Veterans Administration (VA). Families can order their free flag at the KIA Honor Flag website and need only pay shipping and handling. The organization will then schedule a flag signing ceremony with the family and the “ghost soldier” volunteers. Once a year, a “gold star” family is recognized to highlight the program.
The KIA Honor Flag program’s goal is to make sure every fallen soldier and his or her family receive a U.S. flag and also provides resources to these fallen soldiers’ families through a survivor program. Two representatives from each state known as “ghost solders” are assigned to the fallen soldier’s families and provide assistance to the families in many ways. For instance, the ghost soldiers’ representatives replaced a roof of a surviving widow and provided bikes to a fallen marine’s children.
GS3 suggests would-be supporters of the KIA Honor Flag Program support the program by purchasing pins and patches or through local support of the VFW and Wounded Warrior’s organizations. A new endeavor for the program called the MIA Ghost Soldier Choppers aims to hire veterans to design and build motorcycles to sell for profit and the proceeds would stay within the program.
Another way people can help this organization is for local colleges and organizations to sponsor a flag signing to shed more light on the KIA Honor Flag Program and the plight of many of the surviving families. These colleges and organizations could have annual flag signings on Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and other national holidays. The KIA Honor Flag Program then would provide resources and support to veterans at that college or organization.
For more information about the KIA Honor Flag Program visit http://www.KIAHonorFlag.org or Facebook.com/kiahonorflag.