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NEWS | Dec. 5, 2016

Soldiers Train to Care for Families of Fallen Soldiers

By Zachary Mott 88th Regional Support Command

FORT McCOY, Wisconsin – “You only have one chance to do it right,” said Sgt. 1st Class David Boots, the lead Casualty Notification/Casualty Assistance Officer trainer for the 88th Regional Support Command.

When a Soldier dies, a casualty notification officer is immediately appointed to notify the primary and or secondary next of kin. This is a duty that falls on a select group of senior leaders across the U.S. Army footprint, to include active duty, Reserve and National Guard.

Each quarter, more than 30 Soldiers gather at the 88th RSC Headquarters on Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, to attend a formal three-day training session that teaches the ins and outs of the program to ensure that family members receive the best assistance during this time.

“What they’re learning here are the basic guidelines and rules that govern interactions with the family members and how to represent the Army well to perform the casualty notification duties,” said Boots. “It’s one of the most important things we can do as an Army is to do that right.”

When a Soldier passes, it is a traumatic experience for the surviving family members. Having Soldiers who are properly trained on how to conduct the casualty notification and casualty assistance duties is vital to ensure that family is cared for and properly helped through the litany of paperwork and procedures that follow.

“When a family loses a Soldier it should be the responsibility of the Army to make sure that that family is taken care of,” said Lt. Col. Claude Woods, the secretary of the general staff for the 88th RSC and who attended this most recent training session.

At the end of the course, each of these 30 Soldiers is certified to complete the duties of a Casualty Notification Officer or a Casualty Assistance Officer, if the need arises.

“Having standardized training for all Soldiers who do this mission anywhere within the Army family means that we’re treating everyone fairly and evenly across the board so that we can prevent those mistakes or bad situations when the families aren’t taken care of to the upmost,” Boot said. “That’s what we want to do is to make sure those families are taken care of to the best of our ability.”