About Casualty Assistance Program
The casualty assistance program provides assistance to the primary next-of-kin (PNOK) of deceased soldiers and retirees. The Army may provide casualty assistance to the PNOK of all deceased soldiers in the following categories-
- Active Duty military.
- USAR/ARNG enroute to/from/participating in Active Duty Training.
- Soldiers in AWOL status.
- Army retirees.
- Soldiers separated from the Army less than 120 days.
The main objectives of casualty assistance are the following:
- Assist the PNOK during the period immediately following a casualty.
- Eliminate delay in settling claims and paying survivor benefits.
- Assist the PNOK in other personnel-related affairs.
The Army has established Casualty Assistance Commands (CAC) at most major installations where the PNOK of deceased soldiers can get help. Department of the Army policy concerning casualty assistance is that the CAC will appoint a Casualty Assistance Officer (CAO) when a soldier is reported as deceased or missing. PNOK of retirees must request a CAO. While casualty assistance is provided to the PNOK, advice and guidance may be provided to other next of kin (NOK) if warranted by the situation, but a CAO need not be appointed.
The CAO and CAC helps families cope with the loss of their soldier. Primarily the CAO (or CAC if a CAO has not been appointed) helps the PNOK in understanding the entitlements for a military funeral, applying for the various benefits due to the beneficiaries of the deceased and providing other assistance in regards to military benefits.
Notification of the PNOK and secondary next of kin (SNOK) occurs as promptly as possible and in a timely, professional, dignified and understanding manner. In death and missing cases, a uniformed service representative personally conducts the notification and confirms it by written communication. Soldiers who perform the notification will always be in Class A uniform. Only officers, warrant officers and senior noncommissioned officers in grade sergeant first class through command sergeant major will perform the notification. In other than death and missing cases or in the case of retirees or separated soldiers, notification is normally by telephone.
More information is available in AR 600-8-1, Army Casualty Operations/Assistance/Insurance, DA Pam 608-4, A Guide for Survivors of Deceased Army Members, DA Pam 600-5, Handbook for Retiring Soldiers and Their Families, or contact your local casualty area command for assistance. You may also visit the PERSCOM web site at www.perscom.army.mil for detailed information on the casualty assistance program.