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Military Takes Care of Grieving Families

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Flags and roses surround the casket of a fallen soldier (representation)
FORT BRAGG — While military investigators work onfinding out what went wrong with a Black Hawk helicopter that crashedTuesday killing eight, a team of military men and women is helping thegrieving families who were left behind.

They're part of the Army's Casualty Assistance Program.

When something like this happens, there's a lot for families to thinkabout. They're grieving, there are financial issues to consider, somespouses will find themselves having to move off-post and may even have toreturn to work for the first time in years. But the Army has a plan inplace to help.

Army life is a close-knit existence. Almost everyone shops forgroceries at the post commissary, many live in military housing and, if asoldier dies, the military mobilizes.

"When we say we are the Army family, we truly are," says Col. JohnMcNally. "That includes taking care of our family even after one of oursoldiers passes away."

The Army provides next of kin notification, a casuality assistanceprogram, a family resource center, and a family support group. Thecasualty assistance program is key. When an active duty soldier dies,the Army appoints someone to work full time with family members as theystruggle to adjust.

McNally says such services include helping the families move out ofgovernment housing into civilian quarters and helping children makethe transisition into new schools.

Whether it's questions about financial benefits or mental health care,the Army will provide help as long as the family needs it. McNally saysthe Army does what it can because it's the right thing to do. It's partof Army culture.

The casualty assistance officer works with families as long as theyare needed. That could mean weeks or months depending on the family.But it's the family members who decide when they'll stop receivingservices. If a family moves out of North Carolina, to be closer to family,the Army will even provide casualty assistance in the new state.

For anyone who'd like to help the families of the Black Hawk crashvictims, Fort Bragg has set up a fund.

Donations can be made to "Fort Bragg Community Foundation", P.O. Box74620, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, 28307. To avoid any confusion, in thememo section on your check, please note for 82nd Airborne Division Crash.

andKerrie Hudzinski

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