As many of you saw, we lost some of our boys this past Good Friday. To say it makes for a somber Easter is an understatement. Anyway, I’m not going to comment on everything that the military does when we lose someone over here but I figured I can explain a little bit.
The first thing we do is take down all outside communications everywhere on the base that we control. That means no internet, no email, no phone calls back to the states or Germany or Korea or anywhere else. Why? Because early in the war, soldiers would call their buddies wives or families and tell them about their loss BEFORE the military could do the notification properly. And that’s wrong.
It’s wrong because we do things for a reason. Imagine getting a phone call from your spouse’s friend and being told that your loved one is gone. You’re alone in your home. Or maybe you’re at the grocery store. Either way it goes, you get a phone call and its over but you still have grief to work through, decisions to make and long days ahead.
Now if we do it the right way, we send a chaplain and a casualty notification officer. While the sight of two uniformed soldiers walking up to your doorstep is a giveaway to what’s coming, they are trained to deal with grief, to accept however you react and help you through the initial process. The casualty assistance officer stays with the family for as long as they request him or her to stay, helping through the military system, the funeral arrangements and the grief process as well.
We don’t abandon our family members after we loose a loved one. Mistakes are made, we are after all a human system, with all of those human frailties. But we do everything in our power to make sure we honor our soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. And part of that includes keeping people from being told the wrong way.
Blackout is a pain for those of us who don’t know the soldiers who died, but it’s the right thing to do. People do funny things when they’re grieving and it’s better not to take the risk. I won’t violate blackout to post a blog entry or anything like that.
I fired off a quick email to my kids right before we blackout so my mom doesn’t freak out from not hearing from us but then I wait, just like everyone else, for the notification to be made. It’s not convenient but then again, the right thing to do often isn’t.