The dreaded black sedan, that knock at the door, a military spouse’s worse nightmare and a mother’s sorrow. Hollywood has been known to dramatize real life, but nothing can compare to the hurt and pain of losing a loved one. The pain may never go away, but military Families can rest assured they are not alone in dealing with the aftermath of losing their hero.
The Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Office’s sole purpose is to help military Families suffering a loss through the pain, the paperwork, the burials, and moving on. The Fort Bragg center is one of 27 strategically located casualty affairs offices around the U.S. There are also seven centers overseas to assist Families stationed all over the world.
The office is in charge of reporting the death, notifying the death, and support assistance to the next of kin. The center also trains casualty assistance officers, as well as helps with memorials and burials for veterans and retirees.
“We are here for the Family,” explained Joyce Land, Fort Bragg Casualty Assistance Center branch manager. “We are going to take care of them until … until as long as they need us.”
The center is divided into three areas — assistance, mortuary, and memorial. Together, each department works to ensure the Family is taken care of during their time of need however long that may be.
The moment the office is notified of a death, caseworkers get to work. Causality assistant officers, usually consisting of at least three Soldiers (a senior noncommissioned officer, a chaplain, and another Soldier), notify the Family in person. While the assistant officer consoles the Family, caseworkers investigate the death, handle condolences from commanders to the next of kin and prepare the paperwork associated with the death such as life insurance.
The mortuary section ensures that the Soldier’s body is properly handled and prepared for burial. The body is transported from overseas, met plane side with proper respects and honors, transported to the funeral home and guarded until the Soldier can be properly buried with military honors. A team escorts the body to wherever the Soldier is to be buried to render the 21 gun salute. Then they properly hand over the American flag casing and render military honors befitting the fallen Soldier.
Memorials that are held for the Soldier are also handled by the center but mostly coordinate by the Soldier’s unit. The center is available to ensure the unit has everything under control and answers any questions dealing with the memorial that the unit may have.
Families and Army units can rest assured that in their time of need, the casualty assistance center will be there for them throughout the whole process and beyond.
For more information, contact Joyce Land at 236-9537.