Sep 30 2020
1st Lt. Kealy Moriarty | DVIDS
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The loss of a loved one is tragic, but having a sympathetic support system that understands the devastation can help provide strength and overcome the immense grief. Tennessee's Survivor Outreach Services program specializes in connecting surviving family members, providing guidance on beneficial resources, and educating the community on military survivors' needs.
Survivor Outreach Services is an Army-wide program that supports and standardizes services to Active, National Guard and Reserve families of the fallen. This program includes services for Gold Star Families and all surviving families who lost a service member. Currently, Tennessee's SOS program services over 12,000 family members across the state's three grand divisions.
Tennessee's program coordinators work tirelessly to ensure the families are equipped with all available resources. Some of the resources include peer support, bereavement counseling, financial services, obtaining military records, consulting educational benefits and assisting with military benefits. Tennessee's SOS State Support Coordinator Sheila Brigham Jones, a survivor herself, has been working with and supporting these families for over five years.
"With the many individualized issues surrounding each service member and their death, having an advocate to liaison with the numerous entities and resources alleviate a huge burden and source of stress for families throughout the extent of their grieving process and beyond."
Additionally, Jones said her team is responsible for building a unified program, which embraces and reassures survivors that they are continually linked to the Army family for as long as they desire.
"Tennessee is the Volunteer State. Our team has a military lineage and serves as support coordinators with perspective from personal losses," said Jones. "We are more than a team, we are a family, and we have the privilege of serving in a state with a TAG (Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes) who understands and supports military families' past, present, and future."
The Tennessee team builds these relationships through in-person or over the phone check-ins, yearly grievance messages, and local or national events.
"Regionally and nationally there are organizations such as the Gary Sinise Foundation that hosts Snowball Express, A Soldier's Child that provides birthday and Christmas gifts to Gold Star Children, and of course the Herschel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation that sponsors a plethora of events and opportunities for all Survivor Families," Jones said.
For more information on the Survivor Outreach Services program in Tennessee, visit https://www.tn.gov/military/programs-benefits/military-family-programs/survivor-outreach-services.html.