Fort Bliss program offers compassion, support to families of the fallen

Staff Sgt. George F. Gutierrez, 24th Press Camp
Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 11:01pm

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”  The words of President Abraham Lincoln in his second inaugural address are just as true a calling today, and the Fort Bliss Survivor Outreach Services continues to deliver on that commitment to provide standardized services and support to Active, Reserve and National Guard families of fallen Soldiers.

The SOS is a start-to-finish agency facilitating access to the garrisons and communities closest to where families of fallen Soldiers live by providing assistance from professional benefit coordinators, financial coordinators and support coordinators. They have also implemented two new initiatives to help ease the loss of a fallen Soldier.

The first initiative will allow surviving family members who do not hold an identification card the opportunity to apply for an access card in order to receive service and support from the agencies they are authorized to visit on the installation, said Lew Lewis, a program coordinator with SOS at Fort Bliss.

For families to receive an ID card they must follow a few easy steps, beginning with an application form. The SOS processes the application for the access card and the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System office will issue the card if the SOS approves the family member, said Eric Birdsong, manager of Personnel Operations Branch on Fort Bliss. Two forms of identification must be provided as well, one of which must be a picture ID.

“The family members wanted something portable, and that’s why the ID card came about,” Lewis said.

The second initiative is actually an older idea the Army once implemented that is now making a comeback.

“We’re authorized to issue surviving family member SOS vehicle decals,” said Lewis. “Now for the family to have a streamlined priority of service they will have a parking space available to them.”
Parking spaces have been reserved at the Main Exchange and the commissary, with other spaces to coming soon to the offices of the Judge Advocate General, the Army Community Service, the Casualty Assistance Center and SOS.

In conjunction with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a nonprofit organization, Survivor Outreach Services provides service and support to other branches of the armed forces. The service is also available to survivors of retirees. For more information on SOS visit www.sos.army.mil, www.blissmwr.com/sos/ or call 568-5970. 

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