The Bayonet

Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012

Policy allows time for Soldiers to adjust after death of spouse

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Soldiers may request stabilization for up to 24 months following the death of a spouse. The policy went into effect in October and is available to all active-duty Soldiers.

In a nutshell, stabilization is just that — it lets the grieving husband or wife have a stable environment to mourn without worrying about PCSing or deployments.

“Stabilization allows a Soldier to remain at his or her current duty station for a specified period of time,” said Donny Philips, deputy chief of the Military Personnel Division. “During the stabilization period the Soldier will not be reassigned without the Soldier’s consent.”

The request for stabilization must be submitted in writing through the Soldier’s chain of command. It is completely voluntary and, once approved, can be ended at any time during the two-year period.

“There has never been a policy that allows a Soldier to be stabilized so that he or she could take the time to properly grieve after the loss of a spouse — or time to get his or her personal affairs in order,” Philips said.

“This policy personalizes the Soldier’s grief and gives the Soldier solace in knowing the Army understands his or her situation and wants to help ease the pain by approving stabilization. This program ensures the institutional strength of the Army.”

Philips said he believes the directive, signed by the Secretary of the Army, was issued at this time to further support the Army’s health of the force initiatives.

“The death of a spouse can be stressful, especially if a Soldier does not know who or where to turn to for help,” he said. “When a Soldier dies, the Army assigns a Casualty Assistance Officer to assist the next of kin, but when the spouse dies there is no one assigned to assist or provide direction on how to handle the deceased spouse’s affairs. The program is in place because the Department of the Army believes Families are an important part of Army life and recognizes a Soldier must be given time to grieve after the loss of a spouse.”

Philips said the policy is a good one — something he wishes was available when he was on active duty.

“I would advise any Soldier who has lost a spouse to take advantage of this program,” he said.

On post, the program is administered by the Military Personnel Division. For more information, Soldiers should contact the Soldiers Action Branch at 706-545-5655.

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