Fort Rucker CARE teams assist Families
October 8, 2010
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Casualty Assistance Response Team members underwent certification training Sept. 30 to better prepare them to assist Family members of fallen or injured servicemembers.
CARE Teams provide short-term assistance to Families after death or severe injury notifications. They are an integral part in helping survivors through the grieving process, said Curtis Williams, Army Community Service Mobilization and Deployment Readiness program manager.
After breaking the tragic news, notification officers ask Families if they want CARE Team assistance. If Families desire CARE team services, team members typically work with Families for the first 72 hours to two weeks after notification, he said.
CARE teams perform basic everyday duties such as preparing meals, running errands, answering phone calls and providing transportation.
"It's an immediate support link. It's a good stress relief for the Families," Williams said.
Their services end as unit commanders deem necessary, and often when extended relatives arrive to help.
During the training, Williams emphasized to the volunteers the importance of supporting Families through difficult times.
"When you're there, the greatest message that can be sent is that the Army Family cares," he said.
Subjects discussed in the class included the casualty notification process, the Survivor Outreach Services program, team operations, how to deal with loss and grief and how to handle media inquiries.
Treating Families with respect throughout the entire process is important, instructors said.
"With CARE, the Family will always be part of the Army Family," said Tracy Robinson, Casualty Assistance Center training coordinator. "It's important to be there for Families as if the Soldier was still here."
Some participants said they felt the training better prepared them to handle future unfortunate circumstances.
"It's valuable to know what you can and cannot say and what direction you can send Families," said Monica Preston, a military spouse and CARE Team member. "It's nice to know if and when that day comes, I'll know what to say."
Even though Fort Rucker has very few deployable units, tragedies can still occur during training, said fellow team member Capt. Ben Stegmann, B Company, 1st Battalion, 11th Aviation Regiment commander.
"It's important to recognize even though we are a (Training and Doctrine Command) post, we can still have loss," he said. "The potential is always there."
Stegmann said he now knows all the resources available on post to share with those in need.
CARE Team training is conducted three to four times annually, Williams said. Interested volunteers can sign up for training to become certified members.
Volunteers should possess certain qualities in order to be effective team members, including the ability to keep private matters confidential, maturity, diverse life experiences and emotional stability.
For more information on becoming a CARE Team member, call Williams at 255-9578.