Well, I can't say I agree. I'll talk about why below.
The Thunder Run posted this story a bit ago, and I had to comment. The link below is to their coverage of this.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has approved a policy change that, under strictly delineated conditions, allows media filming of dignified transfer operations of fallen service members' remains at Dover Air Force Base, Del.
The new policy is slated to be implemented, April 6, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters today. If immediate family members consent to media coverage, Whitman said, reporters would be provided the basic information on the servicemember and the expected time of arrival of the flight bearing the remains.
"The core of the policy," Whitman said, "is built around the desires of the family members, and it will be the families that decide whether or not media have access to any of these dignified transfers."
Per the memorandum, the following actions are to be taken in conjunction with implementation of the new policy:
-- The undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness and other Pentagon elements will revise defense regulatory documents to reflect the new policy at Dover;
-- Deceased service members' remains will be transferred from the combat theater of operations to the Dover facility as soon as possible;
-- The primary next of kin will make the family's decision regarding media access to dignified transfer operations at Dover;
-- Families of deceased service members will be briefed on the option to allow media coverage of the dignified transfer at the time of notification of the member's death or as soon as possible thereafter;
-- If the primary next of kin permits media access at Dover, reporters will be given the name, rank, military service and hometown of the "believed to be" casualty. A more complete identification of the deceased service member, including unit, place, date and circumstances of death, will be released following the confirmation of the casualty's identity at the Dover mortuary, and then only 24 hours after the last of the deceased's next of kin have been notified of the loss; and
-- Primary next of kin and two other family members may travel to Dover at department expense to observe the dignified transfer operation. The services may fund the travel of additional family members on a case-by-case basis.
With all respect, and I mean this completely, with all respect, I have to disagree. The point I disagree on is that fact that we will ask the primary next of kin what they want in regards to media. I can not even imagine being the Casualty Notification Officer or the Casualty Assistance Officer and having to ask this question. The next of kin are bombarded with emotions, grieving, and administrative issues enough at this point.
I've lost a good deal of friends both on my tours, and in between them. But, this is one question I can not even imagine asking the grieving widow.
God Bless America
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