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Casualty Assistance Calls Officer Training. U. S. Coast Guard. Intro 1. Q. Why have casualty assistance? A. Congress and Commandant says so plus moral reasoning Q. What is a CACO? A. Casualty Assistance Calls Officer (Coast Guard Liaison to the NOK). Intro 2.

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Intro 1
Intro 1

  • Q. Why have casualty assistance?

  • A. Congress and Commandant says so plus moral reasoning

  • Q. What is a CACO?

  • A. Casualty Assistance Calls Officer (Coast Guard Liaison to the NOK)

Intro 2
Intro 2

  • Q. Who is the best choice for CACO?

  • A. Junior Officers (LTJG and above), Chiefs, pay-grade match.

  • Q. Why not the XO or CO?

  • A. span of control, allow CPO/JO’s the experience. Still have a unit to run and the CO’s 48-hour letter to write.

Intro 3
Intro 3

  • Q. Where is my help?

  • A. CPO mess, wardroom, chaplain, work-life, DAO, admin, funeral home

  • Q. When do we assign a CACO?

  • A. gen. speaking: AD/reserve death, spousal/child death, AD VSI/SI, missing, DUSTWUN (duty-status whereabouts unknown: temp status during active search case)

What a caco doesn t do
What a CACO doesn’t do

  • Funeral Honors a Honor Guard

  • Memorial Service a Unit

  • Planeside Honors a Honor Guard

  • Presentation of Investigation a HQ

Caco preparation
CACO Preparation

  • CACO Checklist.

  • Keep Log on Army Form-1594.

  • No Grief Issues last 12 months.

  • Cell phone and Charge Card.

  • Mental and Physical Fitness.

  • CACO authorized TDY with internet plus rental vehicle.

  • How to touch: shoulder, elbow, wrist.

  • Uncle Joe the Veteran; who’s in charge? The NOK – direct decision back to NOK.

Official caco phases ad death in a nutshell
Official CACO Phases AD Death(in a nutshell)

  • Phase A: Notification Visit.

  • Phase B1: Funeral Arrangements.

  • Phase B2: Survivor Benefits Visit.

  • Phase C: Adjustment

  • Phase D: Case Management

Very seriously injured or seriously injured
Very Seriously Injuredor Seriously Injured

  • VSI: likely to die within 72 hours.

  • SI: may die within 72 hours or, life-altering injury.

  • DOD definition for all services.

  • Medical determination for admin purpose, not HIPAA-restricted.

  • Family travel entitlement upon determination under JFTR U5246.

Jftr u5246
JFTR U5246

  • [abridged] not more than three family members of a member may be provided transportation for one round-trip and per diem under par. U5246 as determined by appropriate authority. Transportation for one round-trip and per diem is authorized to visit an active duty member who is seriously ill, seriously injured or in a situation of imminent death, whether or not electrical brain activity still exists or brain death is declared, and who is hospitalized in a medical facility anywhere in the world.

Un official caco phases ad injury
Un-official CACO Phases AD Injury

  • Phase 1: Notification.

  • Phase 2: Meet NOK at airport.

  • Phase 3: Assist family locally.

  • Phase 4: Resolution: recovery, death, patient is moved.

Who is nok
Who is NOK?

  • Primary Next-of-Kin (PNOK)

  • If married, spouse is always PNOK

    • Even if estranged, divorcing, etc.

    • Ex-spouse is not a spouse

  • If no spouse then kids are PNOK

    • Eldest adult child may be PADD, etc.

  • If no kids then parents are PNOK

    • Two parents, together, looks like 1 PNOK

    • Two parents, apart: definitely 2 PNOK

  • If no parents then eldest sibling is PNOK

  • Recognize difference of PNOK vs PADD

Parents are not second class
Parents are not second class

  • Never ignore parents

  • Always notify parents. Always.

  • Secondary Next-of-Kin (SNOK)

    • Next step down the order of precedence

    • Parents may be PNOK or SNOK

    • Parents are never less than SNOK

    • Parents are always significant

    • Be very alert for feuding parents

  • Family mbrs on AD should be notified

And everyone else
And everyone else

  • “Tertiary Next-of-Kin” TNOK

    • Unofficial term—the rest of the clan

  • Fiancée & Fiancé

    • Technically not NOK but deserve respect

    • May have property in common, etc.

  • There may be a “partner”

    • “don’t ask, don’t tell”

  • Show dignity to all

Phase a nok notification message released within four hours unclas fouo no exceptions
Phase A: NOK NotificationMessage released within four hours UNCLAS FOUO no exceptions.

1 casualty timeline ad death
#1 Casualty Timeline: AD Death

  • Death a ID a casualty msg (4 hrs).

  • LOD Determination: PENDING.

  • HQ a D17 a DAO a XO.

  • XO selects CACO.

  • Admin prepares notification letter.

    • Sometimes just condolence letter.

  • Notification occurs.

2 casualty timeline ad si vsi
#2 Casualty Timeline: AD SI/VSI

  • Injury occurs.

  • Identification.

  • Casualty message released (4 hrs).

  • LOD Determination: PENDING.

  • XO notifies next-of-kin by telephone.

  • Admin prepares notification letter.

  • USCG makes travel arrangements.

  • CACO meets family at airport.

3 casualty timeline specpat
#3 Casualty Timeline: SPECPAT

  • Suicide attempt occurs: SI/VSI.

    • SPECial PATient due to suicide attempt.

  • Identification.

  • Casualty message released (4 hrs).

  • SPECPAT notifies NOK/requests no notification.

  • SPECPAT unable to display intent: XO makes notification.

  • USCG makes travel arrangements.

  • CACO meets family at airport.

4 casualty timeline si vsi in theatre
#4 Casualty Timeline: SI/VSI (in theatre)

  • Injury a ID a casualty msg (4 hrs).

  • HQ a D17 a DAO a XO.

  • XO selects CACO.

  • Admin prepares notification letter.

  • Notification occurs in person.

  • USCG makes travel arrangements.

  • CACO meets family at airport.

5 casualty timeline depn death
#5 Casualty Timeline: Depn Death

  • XO notifies servicemember.

  • Servicemember notifies command.

  • XO selects CACO.

  • CACO meets with servicemember.

  • Benefits: CACO assists with FSGLI and transportation of remains reimbursement.

  • *Casualty msg (4 hrs).

Preparing for death notification
Preparing for Death Notification

  • Never go alone.

  • Notify between 0600-2400.

  • Uniform is SDB.

  • Ensure casualty message exists.

  • Memorize first paragraph of letter.

  • Get your emotions in check.

  • Ensure you are talking to NOK.

  • Get inside the house.

  • “I have an important message……”

You are standing at the front door someone answers
You are standing at the front door; someone answers.

  • “Hello, I am Chief Petty Officer Hill and this is Chaplain Jones. I have an important message for John and Jane Smith from the Commandant of the Coast Guard. Are they here and may we come inside?

  • Verify who you are talking to.

  • Repeat: “We have an important message from the Commandant of the Coast Guard.”

Get the kids out get next of kin seated get close kneel if necessary eye contact get to the point

Get the kids out. Get next-of-kin seated. Get close, kneel if necessary, eye contact.Get to the point.

First paragraph of letter
First Paragraph of Letter

  • Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the Commandant of the Coast Guard deeply regrets to inform you that your son, Petty Officer Michael A. Smith, died this morning in Seattle, Washington, as the result of a traffic accident. Your son died in the service of his country. Mr. And Mrs. Smith, please accept my most heartfelt sympathy in your great loss.

Now what
Now What?

  • First off, congratulations . . . one shot.

  • Stop, don’t say anything… wait a few moments. Expect ANYTHING, including violence; retreat if your life is in danger.

  • “Are there any questions we can answer right now?” Do not guess at answers, do not speculate; do not assume facts without verification, and do not promise anything. Provide official information only.

  • “Can we call someone for you?”

  • “I don’t know but I will get back to you.”

Tattoo these cautions on tongue
Tattoo these cautions on tongue

  • Do not guess.

  • Do not speculate.

  • Do not assume facts.

  • Do not promise anything.

  • Provide only verified information.

    Stick to the plan, period.

    First visit info may be mighty meager on circumstances but whatever you say, it must be true.

Please don t say this
Please Don’t Say This:

  • “You’ll have other children.”

  • “You’ll find another husband.”

  • “Chaplain would you like to pray?”

  • “I really know how you feel.”

  • “She is in a better place.”

  • “It will be alright.”

  • “The body.”

    • Say: “Your son” or “Fred” or “PO Smootman”).

Time to go
Time To Go!

  • If asked to leave, leave promptly.

  • Leave notification letter.

  • Make appointment to meet later in day or next day for funeral arrangements.

  • If you have death gratuity paperwork, get it signed.

Funeral arrangements
Funeral Arrangements

  • Death Gratuity: $100,000.

  • PADD: PSC-2020D.

  • Form 5360/1: Option E.2.

  • Escort choices.

  • PERE: PSC-2020D.

  • Planeside Honors

  • Funeral

Death gratuity
Death Gratuity

  • $100,000.

    • No tax.

  • Within 2 business days of claim.

  • $10,000 increments per PSC 2020D.

  • Off-duty reservist death due to service-connected disability a VA.


  • Person Authorized to Direct the Disposition of Remains.

  • PADD may exercise authority, or

  • PADD may transfer authority, or

  • PADD may decline to serve

    • Default precedence list

Form 5360 1 g options
Form 5360/1-G Options

  • E.2: CG pays reasonable expenses IAW with family wishes, per PADD.

Mnemonic technique for 5360 1
Mnemonic Technique for 5360/1

  • A. ALL parties

  • B. BYPASS second funeral home


  • D. DON’T TOUCH my child

  • E. EVERYTHING done by USCG


  • Military is preferred due to log flex.

  • Unit pays for one escort.

    • HQ will reimburse unit.

  • Unit can pay for more escorts.

    • Local financial decision. Justify well.

  • PADD may direct “special escort” in lieu of CG escort.

    • CACO must remind that the deceased will always be under military escort; we really prefer military escort.

Planeside funeral honors
Planeside Funeral Honors

  • CACO escorts NOK plane-side.

  • Request Limousine (option E).

  • Family may desire to meet escort.

At the funeral home
At the Funeral Home

  • CACO views remains alone with funeral director before viewing remains with family present: CACO duty.

  • Ensure Coastguardsman is in best presentable condition with uniform.

  • Be present if family chooses to view remains privately. Recommendation for viewing.

  • Uniform will be laid over non-viewable or skeletal remains.

  • Request 10 copies of original death cert.

Family funeral travel
Family Funeral Travel

JFTR U5242 (change 256, 1 June 2008)

Eligible relatives authorized RT travel & transportation allowances to attend burial ceremonies for mbr who died on AD or ID.

  • Invitation travel orders (ITOs).

  • CG can reimburse travel + 2 full days on-site.

  • Kin may stay as long as they like.

    It’s a free country.

  • Tell how we’ll support them or reimburse their expenses.

  • Don’t tell them what to do, when, where or how.

  • Avoid appearance of giving orders. You can’t.

  • Family funeral travel cont d
    Family Funeral Travel (cont’d)

    Eligible relatives

    • Spouse AND ex-spouse(s)

    • Children (as defined)

      • Legitimate, step, adopted & illegitimate

      • Married or unmarried, any age

    • Parents (as defined)

    • Siblings, and

    • PADD (if PADD not listed above).

    • No immediate family? PADD selects two people closely related to deceased.

    • Attendant or escort (medical need, etc.)

    • CACO attendance depends on circumstances

    At the funeral
    At the Funeral

    • Limousine for family and CACO.

    • SDB with white gloves.

    • Condolences after flag presentation.

    Phase b survivor benefits
    Phase B: Survivor Benefits

    • Monetary

    • Medical

    • Housing

    • Funeral (already discussed).

    • Educational

    • Counseling


    • You are not expected to be an expert.

    • Your duty is to do this WITH the survivors but not do it for them. Foster their sense of independence and control.

    • Do not rush regarding SBP/DIC decision. Ensure financial counseling.

    • Do not disclose beneficiaries, protect privacy.

    • Your POC is your YNC/CWO and DAO.

    • Line of Duty Determinations: PENDING!

    • Make appointments with local SS and VA.

    Financial counseling army and air force mutual aid association
    Financial Counseling: Army and Air Force Mutual Aid Association

    • CGMA pays SP for lifetime mbrship.

    • AAFMAA sends benefits printout to NOK and CACO.

    • AAFMAA can assist in filing for benefits: SBP, SS, DIC, educational benefits.

    • AFSC provides life-time financial counseling for survivor spouse.

    Death gratuity1
    Death Gratuity Association

    • $100,000 non-taxable no-strings.

    • DD Form 397.

    • 72-hour EFT.

    • 10% increments. See PSC-2020D.

    • By law: designated person a spouse a children a parents.

    • Reservists VA certified: takes time.

    SGLI Association

    • $400,000 non-taxable no-strings.

      • 98% of Coasties have this optional insurance.

      • Some have other insurance, or extra.

    • SGLV-8283 Claim for Death Benefits.

    • DD-1300, Report of Casualty

      • Prepared at HQ, with field input

      • Signed by CG Decedent Affairs Program Manager.

    • BFCS Beneficiary Financial Counseling Service

      • Free. Provided by VA. Free.

      • Emphasize this little nugget, okay?

    Social security
    Social Security Association

    • Make appointment with local SS office.

    • One time death benefit of $255.

    • SS benefits children under age 16.

    • Un-remarried SP at age 60 eligible for survivor benefits.

    • Amount based on how much was put in.

    Survivor benefit program spouse
    Survivor Benefit Program - Spouse Association

    • 55% of projected retired pay at 30 years service (base amount).

    • $3,000 base amount = $1,650 SBP.

    • On-duty Reservists: SBP computed as though on AD last 36 months.

    • AD < three years: High-36 is computed as months served (no zeros) e.g. 2 years = High 24.

    Survivor benefit program child
    Survivor Benefit Program - Child Association

    • Child SBP is same amount as spousal SBP except stops at age 18/22 (student) and divided among children.

    • Spouse chooses Spousal SBP or Child SBP (but not both).

    Death indemnity compensation
    Death Indemnity Compensation Association

    • $1154 per month. (CY-10 rate).

    • $286 additional per child.

    • SBP Spouse is OFFSET by DIC.

    • Recipient unmarried until age 57.

    Bottom line re sbp dic
    Bottom line re: SBP/DIC Association

    • Do not rush this decision!

    • Ensure AAFMAA financial counseling.

    • Choosing Child SBP or Spousal SBP.

    • It is not your or my choice.

    Survivor benefit plan sbp using spouse election example
    Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) Using "Spouse" Election Association(example)

    • Monthly Benefits:

    • Based on data you have provided, your assumed active duty death

    • (Svc-Connected) (LOD=Yes) would provide these benefits to the family:

    • Family Benefits Monthly Annual

    • Reason for Change SS + DIC + SBP = Total Total

    • Member's death Apr-2007 1950 + 1847 + 0 = 3,797 45,564

    • DIC Extra Ends Apr-2009 1950 + 1597 + 0 = 3,547 42,564

    • Tommy is 18 May-2017 1662 + 1332 + 0 = 2,994 35,928

    • Jane is 16 Jun-2019 831 + 1332 + 0 = 2,163 25,956

    • Jane is 18 Jun-2021 0 + 1067 + 0 = 1,067 12,804

    • Jennifer is 62 Mar-2040 882 + 1067 + 0 = 1,949 23,388

    Survivor benefit plan sbp using child election example
    Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) Using "Child" Election Association(example)

    • Based on data you have provided, your assumed active duty death

    • (Svc-Connected) (LOD=Yes) would provide these benefits to the family:

    • Family Benefits Monthly Annual

    • Reason for Change SS + DIC + SBP = Total Total

    • Member's death Apr-2007 1950 + 1847 + $890 = 4,687 56,244 (+10,680)

    • DIC Extra Ends Apr-2009 1950 + 1597 + 890 = 4,437 53,244 (+10,680)

    • Tommy is 18 May-2017 1662 + 1332 + 445 = 3,439 41,268 (+5,340)

    • Jane is 16 Jun-2019 831 + 1332 + 445 = 2,608 31,296 (+5,340)

    • Tommy is 22 May-2021 831 + 1332 + 891 = 3,054 36,648

    • Jane is 18 Jun-2021 0 + 1067 + 0 = 1,067 12,804 (same)

    • Spouse is 62 Mar-2040 882 + 1067 + 0 = 1,949 23,388 (same)

    • $56,244 (child) per year verses $45,564 (spouse) per year.

    • Cases differ. In this example, Jane was just 4 years old.

    Va dependent educational assistance
    VA Dependent Educational Assistance Association

    • 45 months for spouse and children.

    • FY 2010 full time: $925/month.

    • AD spouse: 20 year limit from DOD.

    • Children: normally age 26 limit.

    • Apprenticeship programs authorized.

    Other benefits handled by psc
    Other Benefits handled by PSC Association

    • 12 Mo. BAH/Gov’t Housing Combo.

    • Unpaid Pay and Allowances.

    • 60-day leave limit does not apply.

    • TSP payback by designation form then spouse a children a parents.

    Other benefits handled by va
    Other Benefits handled by VA Association

    • MGIB Payback.

    • Home Loan Guarantee.

    • Bereavement Counseling.

    Deers tricare and dental
    DEERS, Tricare, and Dental Association

    • Dependents need new ID cards ASAP.

    • Make appointment with TRICARE rep.

    • SP for 3 years under AD coverage.

    • CH AD coverage until age 21/23.

    • After 3 years, SP retiree rate: $230 for spouse/$460 for family.

    • Tricare Dental: eligible if enrolled prior death unless OCONUS at time of death then may enroll.

    Phase c adjustment
    Phase C: Adjustment Association

    • Phase C begins day after funeral.

    After the funeral
    After The Funeral Association

    • Take time off for yourself.

    • Regroup not Retreat.

    • Ask for CISM de-brief.

    • CACO is to be prepared for long-term relationship with family.

    • Begin transition back to regular USCG duties.

    PERE Association

    • Person Authorized to Receive Personal Effects under Government Control.

    • All PE first belongs to CGI.

    • Perishable goods auctioned to crew: proceeds to family.

    • PE is sanitized for inappropriate and classified material.

    • If aboard cutter, consider wait until RTHP.

    • CACO will personally deliver PE to PERE.

    • NOK will decide to open now or later.

    Pe not under gov t control
    PE not under Gov’t Control. Association

    • PE under family control.

    • PE not under family control: single and on economy. Legal and Decedent Affairs can work to act according to family wishes to gain control of PE and return to family.

    Death certificates autopsy report
    Death Certificates/Autopsy Report Association

    • During Phase B, CACO requested 10 originals of death certificate.

    • Cost goes on funeral home bill.

    • Written request for Autopsy Report.

      • Common for accidents on duty

      • May be significant for violent death

      • Uncommon otherwise

    Survivor home of selection
    Survivor Home of Selection Association

    • Dependents choose HOS within 3 years of date of death.

      • Was 1 year, now it’s 3 years

    • Receive HHG move.

      • “Bluebark TONO”

    • BAH benefits for first 12 months.

      • Usually paid as lump sum

    Misc phase c
    Misc. Phase C Association

    • VA Tombstone/Marker.

      • Apply

      • Estimate 2 months

    • Begin to receive Phase B benefits.

      • Confirm!

    • VA Bereavement Counseling.

      • Remind

    Phase d case management one month later
    Phase D: Case Management AssociationOne Month Later . . .

    Case management
    Case Management Association

    • CACO provides copies of DA-1594 to DAO for case file.

    • CG Senior Officers brief family on investigations before public release.

    • Congressional inquiries.

    • Your new family.

    • Use CACO checklist throughout case, send to DAO when done.

    Known caco issues 1
    Known CACO Issues #1 Association

    • Command wants to notify for mass casualty

      • Span of control issues.

      • DAO issue, not CACO problem

    • Notification without CASREP message.

      • Beware of rushing. Can’t easily retract error.

    • Rush on SBP/DIC decision.

      • Avoid rush. Period. Get educated.

    • Privacy Issues: Beneficiaries.

      • Don’t give toxic envy a chance to grow

    • Coordination of simultaneous notifications.

      • Hard to do. Cell phones, etc. Time zones.

    Know caco issues 2
    Know CACO Issues #2 Association

    • LOD Determinations: PENDING . . . Chapter 7 of Admin Invest. Manual

    • Circuitous Routes for Reservists.

    • 100 mile TRICARE rule for injured/ill dependents.

    • D13 “Courtesy” CACO services: injured dependent? D13 can get you to Harborview in 20 min. from SEATAC.

    Your new best friends
    Your new best friends Association

    • Your DAO will keep you safe, keep you straight, teach you, help get paperwork prepared, run interference with your Finance shop, coordinate with SPO and HQ, and keep you in touch with the Chaplain, CISM, EAP, whatever.

    • Your new best friends are your DAO and your cell phone.

    • “I don’t know but I will sure find out.”

    Good reading
    Good reading… Association

    Some good books may help you prepare for this task. But also, they may help you prepare for your life. We all will face losses and grief—perhaps already did

    Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

    Steen & Asaro, Military Widow

    James & Friedman, Grief Recovery Handbook

    James & Friedman, When Children Grieve