By Tina Ray/ParaglideMarch 18, 2011
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Fort Bragg had more than 74,000 military Family members access its post in fiscal year 2010 and continually strives to maintain a relationship worthy of a Soldiers commitment to service.
Some people know that "D" is the designation for the child or dependent parent of a Soldier, but what some may not know is that the designation for surviving spouses of fallen servicemembers has long been "URW," which denotes an unmarried widow. Those surviving widows and widowers have repeatedly complained that military and civilian personnel do not understand the designation and that they often have to explain not only what it means, but also, how they lost their Soldier.
In an effort to sensitize interaction between personnel and survivors, in 2007, the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System changed the unmarried widows designation from URW to DB, which stands for a Department of Defense Beneficiary.
Some people are just becoming aware of the change since ID cards often do not expire for five to six years.
It is important to familiarize the Fort Bragg community with the change and the different types of card holders, and in an effort to do so, Survivor Outreach Services and the Directorate of Human Resources have joined to get the message out to the public, said Charlotte Watson, program manager, SOS.
Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation will also distribute the message through their channels.
"If the community is aware, it could start a dialogue without the spouse having to explain (their loved ones) death or suicide," Watson said. "It's important so one, they can honor and recognize the survivor and two, it's important because we don't want to put a survivor in a situation of embarrassment by having to explain the loss of their Soldier, if asked," said Watson.
The DB distinction could help ease the task of accessing post and obtaining services.
The next step in educating the public will be to make places such as pharmacies and hospitals aware of the change to DB, Watson said. Eventually, with time, all cards will read DB.
For more information about SOS and other measures it takes to advocate on behalf of the Families of fallen Soldiers, visit its website at www.fortbraggmwr.com/acs/sos.php.