Certain Gold Star and next-of-kin survivors are expected to find it easier to visit Army installations since a new process went into effect in January.
The survivor’s access policy allows qualified survivors to get through gate security more easily and travel on post without an escort to attend events, view memorials and receive services using their survivor’s access card, or long-term installation access pass at overseas locations.
“The Army values people, especially our Gold Star spouses and family members,” said Lt. Gen. Douglas Gabram, commanding general, U.S. Army Installation Management Command. “This change allows them to more easily receive the benefits and services to which they are entitled, and helps enable them to remain connected to the Army.”
Eligible survivors are those who meet the criteria to receive the Gold Star lapel button or Gold Star Next-of-Kin lapel button, including widow or widower, parent, child, stepchild, child through adoption, brother, half-brother, sister and half-sister.
Stateside, eligible survivors may apply for and receive a survivor’s access card through the Army’s Automated Installation Entry system at their local garrison.
Overseas, eligible survivors should contact the Survivor Outreach Services team at their local Army Community Service to begin the application process and background check to obtain a long-term installation access pass.
The installation access pass will be valid for up to one year and can be renewed by repeating the application process through SOS. Survivors visiting overseas installations from stateside locations may use their survivor’s access card to gain access.
“We support survivors to keep them connected to the military community,” said Tina Mann from the SOS team at Kaiserslautern ACS. “This community may be where their son or daughter, husband or wife, brother or sister, mother or father served — this is somewhere that was a big part of their life.”
The SOS program provides dedicated and comprehensive support through a network of civilians serving as advocates for survivors. SOS staff can assist survivors to access benefits available to them at their local installation, such as career and financial counseling.
“SOS is here to provide resources to survivors,” Mann explained. “Sometimes survivors don’t know where those resources are and they just need an advocate — somebody to be their voice.”
Other efforts from SOS include meet and greet events, and an annual luncheon for Gold Star spouses with the USAG RP Command Team.
“It’s really important to recognize the Gold Star spouses and families in our community and let them know the community still cares about them,” Mann said. “We want to let them know that we’re still here for them, and it’s important for us to hear their stories.”
“We can never pay back the debt to our fallen Soldiers, but we can support their surviving families by sharing their grief and listening to their stories,” added USAG RP Commander Col. Jason Edwards. “The strength of our nation is our Army. The strength of our Army is our Soldiers. The strength of our Soldiers is our families. The Army recognizes that no one has given more for the nation than the families of the fallen.”
While the survivor population in the Rheinland-Pfalz military community is not large, Mann said community members should be aware of Gold Star spouses and family members living here or visiting, and to know that someone wearing a Gold Star lapel button has suffered a loss.
To track survivors’ feedback on the new installation access process, the Interactive Customer Evaluation survey added new questions to help determine customer satisfaction with outreach efforts. Local community members can search ‘Survivor Outreach Services’ under USAG Rheinland-Pfalz at https://ice.disa.mil to fill out a feedback form.
“The Army honors our surviving family members by ensuring their access to our installations and Army-led joint bases,” said IMCOM Provost Marshal Col. Kevin A. Comfort.
IMCOM is directing policy compliance and training for its 75 garrisons and installations.
The new process resulted from Section 626 of Public Law 115-232, the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019. The law recognizes survivors as having a valid requirement for long-term, unescorted access to Army installations.
For more information on Survivor Outreach Services, visit
Survivors from all branches of service in the Rheinland-Pfalz military community can get connected to SOS by calling ACS at 0611-143-541-9000.
Editor’s Note: This story was localized from a U.S. Army article dated March 9.