Certain Gold Star and next-of-kin survivors are expected to find it easier to visit Army installations since a new process went into effect in January.
The new survivor’s access policy allows qualified survivors to get through gate security more easily and travel on post without an escort to attend events, view memorials, receive services and similar activities using their survivor’s access card.
“The Army values people, especially our Gold Star spouses and family members,” said Lt. Gen. Douglas Gabram, commanding general, U.S. Army Installation Management Command. “This change allows them to more easily receive the benefits and services to which they are entitled, and helps enable them to remain connected to the Army.”
According to Jody Carmack, Fort Leonard Wood Survivor Outreach Services support coordinator, the Directorate of Emergency Services has worked diligently for years to accommodate Gold Star families’ safe access to post.
“When the (Automated Installation Entry) system came online, (DES) reached out to me to let me know of the new procedure to obtain the passes,” Carmack said. “Within two weeks, we were able to complete a successful test of the system and our new procedure. That Gold Star mother was very impressed with the visitor center staff and was genuinely pleased to have her new survivor access badge.”
The new passes are being issued to eligible survivors who meet the criteria to receive the Gold Star lapel button or Gold Star Next-of-Kin Lapel Button, including widow or widower, parent, child, stepchild, child through adoption, siblings and half-siblings.
To track survivors’ feedback on the new process, the Interactive Customer Evaluation survey added new questions to help determine customer satisfaction with outreach efforts.
“The Army honors our surviving family members by ensuring their access to our installations and Army-led joint bases,” said IMCOM Provost Marshal Col. Kevin Comfort.
IMCOM is directing policy compliance and training for its 75 garrisons and installations.
The new process resulted from Section 626 of Public Law 115-232, the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019. The law recognizes survivors as having a valid requirement for long-term, unescorted access to Army installations.
Survivor’s access cards will be consistent across the Army and will be valid for three years. Defense Department leaders are determining policy to provide reciprocity for survivor’s cards across all services.
“This new badge and the staff that makes it happen are a big improvement,” Carmack said. “I am excited and proud that this new badge will better meet the needs of our Gold Star survivors by having a professional card that eases entry to our post.”
For more information on Survivor Outreach Services, visit https://www.armymwr.com/pro grams-and-services/personal-assistance/survivor-outreach.