The scheduling of the presidential Memorial Service (4 days after the
crash), the Division Memorial Service (8 days after), and the closing of the
Family Assistance Center (10 days after) coincided well with the changing
intensity of chaplains' role pressures and emotional levels. The Christmas
holiday period was weathered quietly, if somberly.
While there was much for chaplains to do in the way of continuing family
follow-up visits, responding to delayed grief or stress reactions on the
part of fellow helpers and their spouses, answering mail related to the
tragedy, and attending funerals (protracted due to the extended body
identification process), the Easter Memorial Service effectively brought
closure to chaplains' responsive role in the tragedy.
Scope Of Ministry and Recommendations
The fact than chaplains must be dispatched not only throughout the affected
community, the mortuary site, and the funeral locations, but to the disaster
and hospital sites when there are survivors, means that personnel resources
may be stretched beyond capacity. Reinforcements should be requested early
on in the crisis from the respective command, the Office of the Chief of
Chaplains, and local civilian clergy, if only in a standby capacity. The
senior chaplain must allot personnel resources to minister to the following
groups during a mass casualty situation:
To give a presence of dignity and compassion during the identification
process and to conduct proper military funerals/burials.
Since mortuary operations and funerals will often take place away
from the home post, a set of uniforms with proper insignia should
be available in a constant state of readiness.
At least one junior and senior chaplain should serve at the
center designated for family assistance established at the
mortuary post location.
Visiting chaplains from the affected
post, as well as local chaplains, should rotate visitations at
the airfield with body escorts, the mortuary stations, the
Headquarters or Army Control Center, and anywhere the dead are
physically handled or identified.
Four-hour shifts are
Chaplains should be aware of and attempt to honor any special
religious prescriptions surrounding the handling of the dead,
especially the remains of non-Christians (notably Jews and