Ch. 5

Chapter 5:

Partnering in Ministry in Times of Grief

How Casualty Notifications used to happen:

  • Telegram
  • Cable
  • Telephone call


Many will remember the stories in the news of families who received official-sounding telephone calls claiming to be from the Red Cross or the military informing them that their loved ones had been killed in the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Those notifications were hoaxes, but the emotional toll on the families was incalculable.



Casualty Notifications:

  • Primarily done by a Military Team
  • Officer
  • Chaplain
  • Medical personnel (in some cases)
  • In rural areas, the Team may stop at the local Sheriff’s Office or Police Department for directions
  • May call on a local pastor to accompany the team
  • Role of the Casualty Assistance Officer


Serious Injury Notifications

  • Preference is given to the notification being made in person, but sometimes it will be made via telephone from the service member’s unit
  • There will be a contact person with the Family Assistance Center who can provide assistance with how to communicate with the injured service member, travel to visit them, etc.


Types of Military Services in Casualty Situations

  • Memorial Ceremony: this is patriotic in nature and command-oriented. It is a military function, conducted by the military to honor and memorialize the fallen soldier. It may or may not be conducted in a military chapel.
  • Memorial Service: this is a religious service, and stresses spiritual comfort. Like a funeral service, the rites of the Chaplain’s denomination guide the service. The chaplain normally plans the service with the assistance of the fallen soldier’s chain of command. The chaplain has greater discretion in this service than in the Memorial Ceremony.
  • Military Funeral: The military funeral has two distinct elements: military ceremony and religious service. The military ceremony recognizes the service and sacrifice of the soldier to the nation and strengthens the spirit of the military service members present. It is serious and dignified. The military funeral combines military ceremony with the resources of worship to meet the needs of the mourners. As a religious rite, it extends spiritual ministry to family members, friends, and fellow soldiers. Services in the chapel or church and the graveside form the worship portions of the funeral


The Role of the Local Pastor

  • Chaplain should ask the next-of-kin if there is a pastor or anyone they can call for them.
  • Family’s wishes will determine the degree of military involvement and honors at the funeral service.
  • Family may choose to use the chaplain or their local pastor for the funeral, or both.


What the Military Service Member is entitled to in the event of death:

  • Chaplain (if available)
  • Casket
  • Honor Guard
  • Burial Flag
  • Burial in a Veteran’s Cemetery
  • Grave marker


How to get Emergency Information from Home to the Field

  • American Red Cross—Contact the local office of the American Red Cross in your community. If there is none, call 1-877-873-3651




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