FORT LEONARD WOOD, MO - Surviving family members of deceased Soldiers will have a say in improving casualty assistance operations in a Fort Leonard Wood forum, Dec. 6.

"The intent of the forum is to identify ways we can improve," said Lynn Morgan, Army Community Service director.

The first forum will be from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the ACS Center. ACS will conduct the forums quarterly (see sidebar for future dates), so surviving family members will have maximum opportunity to provide feedback.

"We tried to tie (the forums) with payday weekends so they could 'double up' and come to the commissary," Morgan said.

The Army hopes to use the forums to improve how they assist surviving family members.

"The goal of this initiative is to contact all surviving family members, across all Army components, to better understand their concerns and incorporate those experiences into improved service delivery," said Maj. Gen. John Macdonald, Installation Management Command deputy commanding general.

The program hopes to address the casualty assistance process and improve the long-term care provided to surviving families. Fort Leonard Wood's Survivor Outreach Services is hoping to answer the question "... and then what'" after all the casualty assistance paperwork is finished, said Dan Danzo, Army Community Service outreach program coordinator.

The entire extended family of a fallen Soldier is welcome to attend the forums.

"This is for children, grandparents and parents," Morgan said.

During the forum, the family members will have the chance to speak openly about their experience working with the military during and after casualty assistance operations.

"They should come prepared to identify areas that could be improved upon," Morgan said.

"Their (feedback) will help the Army improve," said Sharon Boggs, Soldier and Family Action Services director, "so other families aren't in the same position."

The forums are one part of a new Army program, Survivor Outreach Services.

"The SOS will ensure surviving families feel a part of the Army as they desire, foster survivor resiliency and assure access to all entitled benefits," Macdonald said.

Each Army garrison is prioritizing its services to address and respond to the needs of surviving family members. The Army is examining their programs involving ID cards, Tri-Care, vehicle registration, frequent visitor access, and Child, Youth, and School-aged Services to see how they can best assist surviving family members.

The Army also wants to develop signs and cards that indicate that survivors receive the same priority of care as wounded warriors.

"This is extending past the death of the Soldier," Morgan said. "That family is a part of the Army family as long as they want to be."

The forums offer surviving family members more than an opportunity to share how the Army can improve itself in the casualty affairs arena.

"People should come, if for nothing more than to have the opportunity to meet and spend time with folks who have been through the same loss," Morgan said.

Personnel interested in attending the forum can register by calling Danzo 596.2621. Those desiring childcare should register by Dec. 3.

SIDEBAR:
Mar. 7, 2009 - ACS Center, 10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
June 6, 2009 - ACS Center, 10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Aug. 29, 2009 - ACS Center, 10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Page last updated Wed November 26th, 2008 at 14:40