No program can be successful if the people who need it don't know it exists.
Leaders of a relatively new Army program spent the morning of Feb. 25 getting the word out about their program.
"Armies typically take care of their dead, but not the families," said Col. Glenn Kennedy, Fort Gordon's garrison commander, who spoke at a Survivor Outreach Services Coffee Break at Sacred Heart Cultural Center. "The Army wants to do the right thing and take care of the spouses and families. We are not sure where we are going to go with this SOS program."
Those attending the program were a mix of on-post providers as well as those in the community who encounter those who could benefit from the SOS program.
Suzanne Crosby, SOS support coordinator, said among those attending were Tricare providers, representatives from local hospitals, funeral homes and veterans' groups.
Many organizations set up information booths around the center to provide information about their services. After a time of networking, Kennedy spoke to those attending, and Crosby gave an overview of the program's services.
The program benefits those who are survivors of fallen service members or those who died from service-related injuries or complications. Many of those Crosby and her staff have served have come from the Vietnam War.
An example of a service-related death would be someone who died from exposure to Agent Orange used in Vietnam. To qualify for the military benefits, a service member must have a death certificate specifying service-related death, Crosby said.
Crosby said in the event of a death of an active duty service member, a casualty assistance officer is assigned to the case. This individual has a checklist of items to accomplish. Once that checklist is completed, the officer can close the case.
"What if they have a problem with benefits or need paperwork' They can go to the SOS office," said Crosby. "We are in Room 262 in Darling Hall."
Sometimes, a family will want to distance itself from the military soon after the death; however, members will find a need to get back in touch with the military after a child reaches the age of 18 when benefits change.
The SOS is available then as well.
Kennedy said he was pleased with the turnout for the event.
"You can feel the energy starting to build up," he said. "I think we will see the benefits of this for years to come."