Army Community Services’ Survivor Outreach Services program was implemented Army-wide in 2008 as a way to connect surviving family members of fallen military with one another.
“The Fort Leavenworth SOS program is built upon three pillars — recognize, respect, reach out,” according to the Fort Leavenworth Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation website.
Jennifer Douglas, SOS coordinator, said SOS provides families with the most relatable support.
“A lot of the family members feel like they connect better with other survivors. That experience is not something that they can share with just anybody,” Douglas said. “I actually had a family member once that said she goes to suicide survivor meetings, and she still doesn’t get that same connection because of the different experience (with the military aspect). They may have children that died, but the experience is just a little different.”
SOS provides surviving immediate family members, including parents, siblings and spouses, with grieving and bereavement counseling, help with survivor benefits, legal assistance, housing assistance and referrals to any ACS service.
SOS also hosts several events throughout the year so that SOS families can connect with one another. Events can be attended by any family member, including grandparents, aunts and uncles. Although COVID-19 restrictions have forced things to be adjusted, Douglas said two annual events will still happen.
The annual Run/Walk for the Fallen will be Oct. 17-24. The run/walk around Trails West Golf Course can be completed at any point during the week. No sign-up is required. Participants are encouraged to share photos of themselves completing the run on the ACS and SOS Facebook pages. Flags bearing the names of fallen service members will be positioned around the course. To submit the name of a fallen service member to be added to the route, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.