FORT McCOY, Wis. –
Soldiers voluntarily serve the nation. When that Soldier pays the ultimate price, it is volunteers who step in and help the family that is left behind.
The Casualty Notification Officer and Casualty Assistance Officer are two separate but important duties provided to the families of deceased service members by Soldiers who volunteer for that honor.
When those Soldiers volunteer, there is a three-day course they must attend and pass in order to be certified to perform the CNO or CAO duties. The most recent class was conducted at the 88 Readiness Division headquarters in Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, March 27 to 29.
“By taking this course we’re learning how to take care of that family during their time of need. It’s very important,” said Sgt. 1st Class Christian Reynolds, operations noncommissioned officer, 312th Army Band, 88th RD.
The training was recently updated and expanded to include more scenario-based video segments, topics recent casualty notification and assistance officers have requested to be added and using Soldiers wearing the current uniforms.
“A lot of people are show me learners. They like to see what it’s going to be like instead of it just being explained to them,” said David Boots, the lead CNO/CAO course instructor with the Casualty Operations Branch, 88th RD. “(The videos) are as realistic as they can be. It’s a train as you fight mentality. We’re trying to show (the students) what to expect. (The videos show) what needs to happen along the way.”
While the course is designed to prepare these Soldiers to conduct, perhaps, the most difficult duty in the Army, it cannot show them every possible situation a casualty notification or assistance officer might face.
“This gives them a roadmap to success,” Boots said. “It’s not going to be the be-all and end-all where every single answer can be found specifically for their specific situation because they’re all different. This gives them the roadmap to success, a framework to follow, and overall they can get the answers that they need to through their student handouts and going to the Casualty Assistance Center.”
The CNO and CAO training is offered by the 88th RD across its 19 state region. Future courses will be conducted in Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin. To find out specific dates and locations, contact the 88th Readiness Divisions Casualty Operations Branch Chief, Jenny Bryan at 608.388.0435 or email@example.com