By Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr.October 29, 2010
General Casey: Hello and welcome everybody. Timing is everything (laughter). SOS is two years old now. What I want to know is how we are doing on this... After five years of war, we were still doing the basics. It was clear that we had to do more...
In thinking about it, we can operationalize those two thoughts and the result of those programs survivor outreach services. Now, this is a big Army and I've been in it for 40 years. I know that sometimes were a little structured in how we try to do things. I also know that grieving is a very individual process and that you can't have a cookie cutter solution for it. What we've tried to do is build a process with enough structure in it so we can have a program. But, with enough flexibility in it that it could be used by individuals to meet their needs.
It was clear that we were never going to do this ourselves, unless we brought some survivor's into this. And so, right from the beginning, I started a survivor panel - a group of survivors - that I actually became in contact with. I ask them if they would help me out. Would they be on this panel and share their thoughts with me and with Shelia so that we can guide and shape this program as we go forward' And I tell you this - if you haven't been through it, you don't get it.
My panel is here - my crack panel. I see some of them sitting over here. Dana Lambertson, Dana is the one who started this panel. Dana called me when I was the commander in Iraq and she was concerned about her husband's funeral. I said I would look into it. I called the CG of 101st. He checked and it was all going to be fine. But then Dana and I kept in contact while I was in Iraq. After I got back, and through Dana, I started getting the sense that we weren't doing everything we need to take care of our survivors. Those of you that don't know Dana, know that she is a prolific emailer - sometimes bordering on spam.
But, she has really helped me focus on important things. Right after Dana, I came across Donna Engeman. Donna's over there. One of the smartest things we did was hiring Donna. She is also on the panel also, but we also hired her to help us run the Survivor Outreach Services Program. Then Dana introduced me to Kristy Stanley. Kristy's husband was killed in an aviation accident back here in the states. Then Robert Stokely. We needed Robert to get a parent perspective. Next was Carolyn Malcolm. I asked Carolyn recently to come on to the panel. Her son Matt was missing in Iraq for about 3 years before his remains were found. She has a unique perspective on this. So that's the panel - the group - that I look to to keep us straight, calibrating, and going forward. They have been very, very helpful.
I don't know if maybe some of you heard the remarks that I made yesterday. I talked about the great things that the Army has done. But, I also talked about the cost. One of the things I said - and I will say it again to you all - is that you need to know that your loved ones' sacrifice is both recognized and appreciated and won't be forgotten.
General Casey: And so, with that, I'd like to really hear from you all. Shelia, would you like to say something' This is my lovely wife, Sheila, otherwise referred to as the better three-quarters.
Sheila Casey: Hi, it is a pleasure to be here today. I had the honor of going to the outbrief yesterday over at L'eFant Plaza. I have to say, the group that came up clearly worked very hard and came up with some really solid suggestions on things that would not only would help them, but they're really paving the road for those who come behind them, which is so important. What George said, I said yesterday: "your loved ones will never be forgotten." Thank you to all of you for your service and your sacrifice. I know words are very difficult to find words - to really display how much we mean this - but do know that we do care.