ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga --
Though death is a part of life, some people avoid the discussion or planning for the inevitable event. However, this important matter is the primary focus of the Robins Casualty Assistance Office.
The CAO assists widows, widowers and beneficiaries following the death of an active duty, retired Air Force member or civilian.
“When there is a casualty connected to Robins, I am among the first group of people to be notified by Command Post or Mortuary Affairs,” said Alfe Tucker, Robins Casualty Assistance Representative and Survivor's Benefit Plan Counselor. “The biggest issue I’ve noticed is for the retiree community. Many of those members do not know what to do or where to turn for help after a loved one has passed.”
Tucker’s office is located in the Military and Family Readiness Center. The M&FRC serves as a focal point for Air Force family matters.
“After introductions, the next thing I ask for is certain paperwork,” said Tucker. “A death certificate is needed to begin the process, the deceased person’s DD-214, a marriage certificate and banking information. These items aid in securing survivor’s benefits.”
Airmen are encouraged to update their records whenever a life change occurs, such as marriage, divorce or birth of a child to ensure the proper next-of-kin notifications are made.
Tucker encourages service members and their spouses to attend the one-on-one Survivor Benefits Programs briefing that is offered to Airmen before they retire. She said this should be completed no less than 120 days before the member’s approved retirement date to determine the election of SBP.
“Before they hang up the uniform, please make sure your spouse is aware of their survivor’s benefits,” said Tucker, who served 23 years active duty in Mental Health. “When people are dealing with the loss of loved one, having the business side of things handled helps greatly and reduces some stress. It’s one less thing to be worried about.”
The program is also responsible for providing assistance to surviving families of the following categories: Reserve (in active-duty status), Guard (in active-duty status), Civil Service (including Non-Appropriated Funds), Retirees (deceased only), Contractors deployed on orders under the Air Force.
“I don’t know anything else but being of service to others,” she said. “I believe that is what I was created for. It is an absolute honor for me to be able to assist a family during their most trying time with the loss of a loved one.
“To know I can offer some comfort and to see the smiles of thanks before a spouse leaves my office is rewarding,” Tucker continued. “It is an honor to hear the stories of love that sometimes span 40 to 50 years as well as family memories.”
The M&FRC also continues to serve family through the Air Force Families Forever long-term aftercare program. AFFF provides resources, support and information to help survivors adapt to life without their loved one.
“Once a part of the Air Force family, always a part of the Air Force family,” said Tucker.