Fort Drum— Four years ago, the Army saw a need to provide support for families who have lost loved ones in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
Still a relatively new program, the Survivor Outreach Services (SOS) was formed in an effort to assist grieving families during the devastating event of a loss of loved one (soldier). The Fort Drum Survivor Outreach Services provides support for families all throughout the North Country.
ABC50 spoke with Program Coordinator, Thomas Clegg Jr., who explained just how much of the North Country Fort Drum SOS covers:
"Currently, SOS supports 195 families spread out within: Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Clinton, Franklin, Essex, Lewis, Northern Herkimer, Northern Hamilton Counties and North into Canada. The intent of SOS is to be an advocate, liaison, resource, and subject matter expert for all things casualty related and maintain the connection with surviving families for as long as needed. Beyond the initial services of the Casualty Assistance Officer, SOS is essentially long-term case management with a heart."
The program has developed a welcoming, compassionate environment where surviving families can come for information, assistance, or just to talk to someone who will listen. Fort Drum Survivor Outreach Services works with Army and outside agencies to provide a myriad of support services from financial counseling, education assistance, coordination of grief groups, special events, and activities to bring families together with others who know what it's like to lose a Soldier. Throughout the year SOS conducts monthly family nights, candlelight remembrance ceremony, grief camp for surviving kids, and spa days for gold star mothers day and gold star wives day.
Most of the families simply do not have the knowledge of the Army and VA system and need assistance understanding benefits and entitlements. SOS offers guidance, providing options and opportunities to thrive in their new reality. Gaining perspective from others who have been there and professionals in the field we are able to address any issue that may arise reducing the stress of the surviving family member. By facilitating group activities and counseling, families are able to recognize and understand their individual grief process and share these experiences with