Gold star families – spouses, children, parents, siblings or others whose loved one died in service to our nation – are a vital part of the nation’s military community and history.
Support After Loss
You were part of the military family when you supported your service member in his or her mission. And you're still part of the family now. That’s why the military has designed programs especially for survivors – tools and services to help you cope, make informed decisions, grieve in healthy ways and begin to envision a life with new opportunities.
After the death of a loved one, you may experience a wide range of emotions. That is natural. Finding your new normal after the death of a loved one is not the same for everyone.
In its effort to ensure that military families have support in their time of need when a service member is declared deceased, whereabouts unknown or missing, the Department of Defense’s Casualty Assistance Program assigns a dedicated casualty assistance officer to advise and assist the primary next of kin.
Your casualty assistance officer, or CAO, or mortuary officer is there to assist you with making funeral and burial arrangements in honor of your loved one’s service and sacrifice.
The Department of Defense’s Casualty Assistance Program makes sure that military families have support in their time of need, including understanding all benefits and other forms of assistance. Although the term “casualty” is usually associated with death, casualty support to eligible family members also means support after injury and illness, and when a service member is missing.