It’s one of the toughest jobs in the military. Informing the families of servicemen and women that their loved ones have been killed in a war. While the duties of a casualty assistance officer are not physically taxing, they can take a mental toll.
In this scene from the movie “Saving Private Ryan,” a mother gets the devastating news that three of her sons died in World War Two. And that reality is not far removed far removed fiction. As these casualty assistance officers notify Colorado Marine Lance Corporal Thomas Slocum’s family of his death in Nasiriyah, “It’s not the most pleasant job you’ll ever have because you see so many people in a great deal of stress,” says Casualty Officer Deryline Watts.
Casualty assistance officers will always notifty the spouse, children and parents of a soldier in person, if that soldier dies, is missing in action or was taken as a prisoner of war. But their duties go way beyond notification Watts says, “He assists them getting through the funeral and then he assists them getting through applying for all the benefits they’re going to receive.”
The CAO office at Fort Carson notifies family members whose army soldires are not only stationed here, buy anywhere in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and North and South Dakota. Casualty assistance officers notify and help families when their soldiers are killed outside of war circumstances as well.