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Casualty Assistance: DOD and the Coast Guard Need to Develop Policies and Outreach Goals and Metrics for Program Supporting Servicemembers Survivors

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Technical Report

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U.S. Government Accountability Office Washington United States

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From January 2002 through November 2015, 17,911 servicemembers died while on active duty, leaving approximately 24,000 surviving dependents. The military services casualty assistance programs guide these survivors through the casualty assistance process following the death of a servicemember. Senate Report 114-49 included a provision that GAO review the Gold Star Advocate Program and the training provided for casualty assistance officers. This report assesses the extent to which 1 DOD and the Coast Guard have implemented the Gold Star Advocate Program and conducted outreach to survivors and 2 DOD has developed a training program for casualty assistance officers consistent with attributes of an effective training program. GAO analyzed statutes, DOD and Coast Guard policies on casualty matters, and DODs military services casualty assistance guidance and training materials. GAO interviewed officials involved in the Gold Star Advocate Program at DOD, its military services, and the Coast Guardwhich is part of the Department of Homeland Security DHS.

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