Beginning March 14, the U.S. Army Installation Management Command implemented a program that provides easier access for Gold Star Family members of fallen Soldiers, to military installations.
Previously, many survivors of these fallen Soldiers did not have a Department of Defense identification card and were often required to get a visitor pass to gain access to facilities such as the Army Community Service and Survivor Outreach Services, or SOS, offices. A standardized Gold Star Installation Access Card is now issued to the parents and siblings of fallen Soldiers so that accessing the support services is easier.
Hal Snyder, chief, Wounded and Fallen Support Services, Headquarters, IMCOM, said, “Surviving parents, siblings and others who do not already have a military or Family member ID have told us that one of their biggest frustrations is getting onto an installation to attend Survivor Outreach Services support groups, attend events, visit memorials and visit with other survivors.”
Snyder further explained that this card was created in response to the issue being brought up in a quality of life forum and then escalated to the Department of the Army level.
Prior to the start of the access card, vehicle decals were used on many installations to recognize Gold Star Family members. Some posts had already provided identification cards, but the new program started a standard effort across all installations Army wide.
There is more to the card than just identification and access. It also honors those Family members, expressing gratitude for their service as well.
“This card allows survivors to have a transportable method to not only gain installation access, but it proves acknowledgement that they are Army survivors, which is very important because of the sacrifices they have made,” said Christine Carruthers, Survivor Outreach Services region specialist, Headquarters, IMCOM, in a recent IMCOM news release.
Along with the access card, Family members also receive a Gold Star Lapel Button or a Gold Star Next of Kin Lapel Button. Congress established the Gold Star Lapel Button in 1947. It is presented to the spouses and family members of Soldiers that we killed in combat. The Gold Star Next of Kin Button is presented to the Family members of those Soldiers that died outside of combat.
Those eligible to receive the card and buttons are the widow/widower, child, stepchild, adopted child, service member’s parent, brother, half brother, sister and half sister.
In order to receive the Gold Star Family Member status, the SOS Support Coordinator of each installation will request a background check and then forwarded to the Garrison Commander. Along with the card, a signed letter will be provided to the Family member that outlines the use of the card.
The Gold Star Installation Access Card will not provide any additional benefits or entitlements not already authorized to that Gold Star Family member and the card will expire two years from the date of issue, according to Operations Order 13-084. Upon expiration, Family members may reapply for the card following the same initial application procedure.
Many Army installations also provide designated parking spaces for those with a Survivor Outreach Service logo decal or a Gold Star license plate. Fort Huachuca offers two spaces in the Exchange, Commissary and ACS parking lots. Drivers who park in these designated spaces and do not have a special license plate or logo on their vehicle will receive a Department of Defense citation, resulting in a one point loss against their post driving privileges.
Fort Huachuca’s Survivor Outreach Services office is located at Building 50010, Smith Avenue. For more information about any of these services, call 533.2330.