Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Touchy Subject

Last night one of the classes during my Army Family Team Building workshop was called "Crisis, Coping and Grieving."  Obviously in the military this is a very touch subject.  No one usually wants to teach this class for obvious reasons, and many don't even want to take it for fear of "jinxing" themselves.  So many times in life, what we want and what we need are two totally different things as is the case with this class.  Someone may not want to take it, but that doesn't mean they don't "need" to.

The class covers the stages of grief, coping strategies, things you can do to help others cope with grief and the procedure of a casualty notification.  Being fairly new to military life this class was especially helpful to me.  Honestly before last night, I really had only a very vague idea of what happens when the death of a soldier occurs.  Even if it's the absolute last thing you want to think about, as a military spouse it's important to know what happens in the event of this kind of tragedy.  I mean nobody likes talking about wills either, right?  Unfortunately part of being a responsible adult is broaching these types of touchy subjects. 

Still another reason to be aware of these procedures is to avoid being the victim of a sick and twisted scam.  Last night's instructor told us a story of a woman who was woken up at two in the morning by someone banging on her door.  They were dressed in ACU's with no rank and no unit insignia.  He claimed something had just happened to her husband and wanted her to let him in.  What would you have done in that scenario?  If you answered, "Obviously, I would open the door and let him in," you are exactly the person who needs to take this class.  The woman, sensing something wasn't right, did not open the door, but instead called her husband's Chain of Command first.  Turns out her husband was okay and that the guy banging on her door, was just a sick jerk that had devised an elaborate scam to get into her house!

The least you should know is this:

  • Always make sure your FRG or Rear D has the address where you can be reached.  That means, if you go home to visit your parents for a couple of weeks while your husband is deployed let them know!  Next of kin is always priority in this situation, but if they don't know where you are they can't notify you.  Also, keep in mind soldiers in the same unit are put on blackout and no information is released to their families either, until they can make the notification.  If it takes an extended period of time to locate you the chances of inadvertently finding out from an "outside" source are dramatically increased and other spouses in the unit could be wrought with worry wondering if its their soldier.
  • Notifications are made between 0500 and 2400.  However, there can be exceptions.  For example if there has been a leak to the media, they may notify at a different time to prevent you from finding out though the news.
  • Usually the CNO (Casualty Notification Officer) will be accompanied by a chaplain and possibly by other soldiers.  The CNO will ALWAYS be in either Class A's or Dress Blues.

If you're interested in taking this class for more valuable information, contact your ACS

AFTB is available on every post and offers a variety of classes that will help both those new to the military life and those who are seasoned veterans as well.  It's a great resource to take advantage of.

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