ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Are you a family member, relative or friend of a fallen Soldier' Are you having trouble handling the grief' Has the loss hurt you financially as well as emotionally'

For survivors of fallen Soldiers, unsure of where to turn for answers, help has arrived.

The Survivor Outreach Services program provides long-term emotional and financial planning support to the Families of fallen service men and women in a compassionate, thorough and timely manner.

Unlike casualty assistance, Survivor Outreach Services is open to non-ID cardholders as well government ID cardholders, services are available for life and it provides a single, local point of contact-the support coordinator-who works with other agencies.

"It's for anyone going through the grieving process," said Annette Sanders SOS support coordinator. "Some people don't grieve for years. But when they do, we offer long-term case management for surviving family members to call and get their questions answered.

"As a support coordinator, I can help them pick up, change and start their lives over again," she said. "Survivor Outreach can help whole families get their lives back on track."

Under Survivor Outreach Services, it is not required that the fallen Soldier dies in theater. Death can have occurred at anytime, anywhere, on duty or off. This applies to active duty, retired, National Guard or Army Reserve members.

"There are limits to what we can do for non-ID cardholders but we can find for them resources that will support the individual or family,"

Sanders said. Sanders said that the program began with Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr., who developed the idea for a better support system for survivors of fallen service members in 2006. Working with Gold Star spouse Donna Engeman and other survivors, as well as with Installation Management commander Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, Casey developed what became Survivor Outreach Services. Today there are more than 108 support coordinators and financial counselors giving support to Families worldwide.

"This program exists to help those grieving a Soldier, whether it's a sibling, cousin, grandparent or battle buddy, Sanders explained. "And it extends back to World War II, Korea and Vietnam. It is in keeping with the Army Covenant that says the Army will be there to support those families."

Sanders said her goal is to get the word about SOS to Families off post and on, to church groups or anyone who even thinks they are someone who is a survivor.

"This is not about surviving a loss; it's about overcoming a grief and that could take years," Sanders said. "It's my job to make contact with all the people out there who don't know they are eligible to use these services."

She said that groups like Gold Star Wives of America, Inc., offers similar services and when applicable, clients may be referred to these or similar groups.

SOS is a holistic and multi-agency approach to delivering services by providing access at garrisons and communities closest to where Families live.

For more information, call 410-278-2861, e-mail Annette.sandersnash@us.army.mil, or visit www.MyARMYOneSource.com and click on "Family Programs and Services" for the Surviving Families link.

Page last updated Tue February 22nd, 2011 at 14:16