As a military widow or widower, after you no longer require the assistance of a casualty assistance officer and when you move off the military installation, you may start to feel disconnected from the military community. But just as your spouse's service to our country will never be forgotten, you will always have a place in the military community. You may still continue to receive certain military benefits and turn to members of the military community for support.
Surviving military spouses may continue to receive many service benefits and privileges. You may be eligible to receive TRICARE benefits under TRICARE Prime at the active-duty rate - at no cost - for three years, and afterwards at the retiree family member rate, which will require you to pay a premium. You may shop at the commissary and exchange indefinitely and you may also use installation Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities unless you remarry. For a full list of survivors' benefits, read A Survivor's Guide to Benefits on Military OneSource.
The military services provide various support networks for survivors. The Army provides assistance with Survivor Outreach Services support coordinators and financial coordinators. The Marine Corps Long Term Assistance Program provides outreach and assistance to Marine families who have residual issues with death benefits and entitlements and connects families with grief and peer support experts. Navy Casualty is there to support and answer questions for families of deceased sailors. The Air Force has a long-term after care program called Air Force Families Forever that provides dedicated support to families whose airman died on active duty.
There are also many nonprofit organizations that can provide support. The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors offers assistance to surviving family members of all branches of military service. Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. is a congressionally chartered nonprofit service organization that provides services to active-duty and service-connected widows and widowers. The Society of Military Widows is another nonprofit that serves the interest of women whose husbands died while on active duty from a service-connected illness, during disability or regular retirement from military service. For a full listing of support and service organizations, read A Survivor's Guide to Benefits.
Remember that you will always have a place in the military community for as long as you want. Your country will never forget your family's and your loved one's sacrifice and service to our nation. There are many ways for you to receive support. For more articles and resources to help you cope with the loss of a loved one, visit Military OneSource.