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Unexpected Tragedies: Tell Loved Ones Your Wishes

By Lisa E. Stafford
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 1998 – You never know, when it's your time to go. A sudden death can send a normal family spinning out of control. You should tell your family what your wishes are, if the unexpected occurs.

Facing the reality that we or a loved one could die suddenly is never easy. Talk with your spouse and family about what you want them to do in the event of your death. Discuss everything from the desired casket to a preferred burial site. Speak with an expert concerning a will.

Service members are vulnerable to unexpected accidents when on training maneuvers, special missions or just a case of a random accident. For example several months ago there were numerous DoD aircraft crashes that caused Defense Secretary William Cohen to order grounding of military training flights. No matter how cautious we are a sudden accident is never foreseen and sometimes not preventable.

The first step is to make a simple check list for yourself, spouse or next of kin. Write it all down to the simplest detail, if necessary. This will make their decisions later a lot easier. Here are some questions that you should ask:

  • Is my personal and emergency data locator cards correct? Does it have current telephone numbers and who should be notified in the event of my death ?
  • Does my family have to move off base after I die?
  • Will I be buried at government expense?
  • What will the TRICARE coverage be for my survivors? Does your spouse or next of kin know your duty phone numbers?
  • Do I want to be buried or cremated?
  • What kind of life insurance policies do I have and are the policies adequate. Where are they?
  • Do I have a safety deposit box? If so, where is it and who has a key?

After answering these questions you will have a sense that your affairs will be handled according to your exact wishes. Don't take things for granted -- ensure that your spouse or next of kin have been informed.

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