And so it begins

At a recent Battalion Steering Committee Meeting (BSCM), we were given the timeline for the "Build Up To Deployment" (BUTD). And we sat and discussed all of the ways that the Battalion can help the families "make it through the upcoming deployment". I have my thoughts on that concept but I'll save those for now.

As we walked through the plans for "pre-deployment training" for the families, there was little, if any, mention of information from the Casualty Assistance Office. I'm not sure if any of you remember a few months back that Fort Campbell dealt with a rash of fake casualty notifications. One of the ways that the people perpetrating this crime were able to be successful was that the families were not clear on how the notification process actually worked. Yes, there had been briefings but I suspect that the command scaled back the level of detail in order to "spare the feelings of the families" and not get them "unnecessarily worked up". In fact, the BN commander here even commented that he was hesitant to get into the "gory details" of the notification process in order to spare the families the stress of having to imagine.

Obviously he's not hung around me much. To me, knowledge is power. Give me as much information with regard to what to expect as possible. That's my way of maintaining the illusion of control in a situation where I truly have NONE. I want to know the details. I want to hear it all.

I want to know what they will be wearing.
I want to know what they will be driving.
I want to know what hours it is possible for them to arrive on my doorstep.
I want to know what they are going to say.
I want to know who is going to say what.

I want to know. And I want to know it ALL.

So don't mince the words. Don't scale back in order to spare my feelings or to keep from causing me stress. Because if you could step into my mind, what you would see in there would cause you to run, screaming, from the room. The scenarios that play out in my mind are, like my friend Sarah has said in the past, charicatures of how it would really play out.

Over at Spousebuzz, we've discussed this topic several times. The conclusion I've come to - with the help of both the authors of the articles as well as the commenters and some friends who have faced that beast head on is that it *never* plays out the way you expect it to. But knowing what to expect of the process would help to alleviate that part of the stress. At least, in theory.

So we will be having a brief by the Casualty Assistance Office. My hope is that each one of the spouses in the company will come and bring their "listening ears". And my prayer is that we will never have a need to put the information to use.


- hfs


Margaret said...

I asked the same question at our first FRG training meeting and actually got a fairly decent answer.
But I did get funny looks when I asked it.

Leigh said...


I'm definitely an "I need to know so I can stop worrying about it" kind of girl.

Be sure they pass out information about survivor benefits, too. Seeing those numbers and realizing that I'd have enough money to do what I needed to do was a huge relief to me.

And - for what it's worth - I've watched my neighbor go through the process (she lost her husband in October) and it's been pretty textbook. Nice to know the system does work sometimes.

liberal army wife said...

Knowledge is power. and I want to know everything - drives the DH to distraction when I ask a bazillion questions. During the first deployment, our FRGs were instructed to hold "what if" and "how you are notified" briefings. We had the head of the NG Casualty Assistance office in MN give the briefing, she was very matter of fact. The Chaplain did his part, and didn't pull any punches either. We had some parents and spouses very upset, they just didn't think they should have to face that, but those old timers like me just liked have those facts. And when the first one happened, the knowledge of how it works helped the parents of that young man.

Now when you are an IA, there are NO briefings, NO meetings - NADA. Glad I knew how it worked before he left and I hope he told them they didn't need to schedule a briefing for me about notifications etc, and that this isn't how they usually run IAs.


Amanda said...

Another that was an option here, you or your spouse is supposed to fill out paperwork that details how you want your family notified. You can list if you want the military to try to bring someone with tem, for instance your pastor or if there is family in the area.
Just thought I would pass that on.
There is no harm in knowing.

Homefront Six said...

Amanda ~ thanks! We have the "Spouse Preference Form" that we fill out and that is supposed to guide the procedures should a notification need to take place.

LAW ~ can't believe they didn't brief at all. That's negligent.

Leigh ~ I'll make sure to ask them to brief about the survivor benefits too. A basic overview should suffice.

liberal army wife said...

I agree, it's negligent... but that's the unit. and after over a year of beating my head against a wall, volunteering to help - I gave up. I worry about the younger ones though.


Amanda said...

You know there does not seem to be as much communication and support for the young wives as there was 10 years ago. I am weeping at that number. Maybe it is the young wives don't communicate or maybe us older ones are not reaching out.

AFSister said...

God. It seems like he just got back, and he's leaving again... *sigh*

Homefront Six said...

Amanda (and LAW) ~ it's not so much that the young wives don't communicate nor is it that the older ones don't reach out as much. I think it has more to do with the fact that Big Army has stepped on it's dick so hard that no one can get anything done through the FRG and most people wind up banging their heads against the wall.

AFSis ~ Time flies. He's been home for 1.5 years. Can you believe that? It will be about 2 by the time he leaves again. Better than most!

liberal army wife said...

you are soooooo right. The FRG has become so hamstrung, we can't fund raise, we can't have the phone tree, the young wives with little kids need day care, and that's close to impossible - liability fears, the lack of child care on post - it's a HUGE problem. the vFRG seemed to be a decent alternative - in my case the command doesn't like it and won't sponsor it. I have given up - after 18 months of beating my head against the wall. Being one of the 4 who showed up for the meetings - it just got ridiculous.

so online communities are trying to take the place of the FRG, and that's working up to a point. The information that needs to be provided to the families that can only come from command/unit structure - there is the problem.

getting off that tired soapbox now.



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