Local News

Military Takes Care of Grieving Families

Posted July 9, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— While military investigators work on finding out what went wrong with a Black Hawk helicopter that crashed Tuesday killing eight, a team of military men and women is helping the grieving 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 think about. They're grieving, there are financial issues to consider, some spouses will find themselves having to move off-post and may even have to return to work for the first time in years. But the Army has a plan in place to help.

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

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

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

McNally says such services include helping the families move out of government housing into civilian quarters and helping children make the 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 says the Army does what it can because it's the right thing to do. It's part of Army culture.

The casualty assistance officer works with families as long as they are needed. That could mean weeks or months depending on the family. But it's the family members who decide when they'll stop receiving services. 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 crash victims, Fort Bragg has set up a fund.

Donations can be made to "Fort Bragg Community Foundation", P.O. Box 74620, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, 28307. To avoid any confusion, in the memo section on your check, please note for 82nd Airborne Division Crash.

andKerrie Hudzinski