Survivor Link - Issue 5 - June 2022

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June 2022

The Survivor Link: Issue 5

     The Survivor Link is the Army Survivor Outreach Services Newsletter. This newsletter is published on a quarterly basis to provide information about benefits changes, program updates, opportunities to connect with other survivors, and to stay linked to the Army.

      Army Survivors can subscribe to The Survivor Link at any time. To subscribe just follow the link in this newsletter. You can choose to have the Survivor Link delivered to your email address or as a text message to your cell phone.

      When you subscribe you will be asked a few questions. Please complete your first name, the component of your Soldier (Regular Active Army, US Army National Guard or US Army Reserve), your relationship to the Soldier (spouse, child, parent, staff or other), and your State of residence.


         Army Leader Message             Headquarters Department of the Army Deputy Chief of Staff, Installations


DCS, G-9 Message

SOS Staff Locator

Did you know that the Army has more than 150 Survivor Outreach Service Coordinators ready to assist Surviving Families who are having problems with benefits such as the Survivor Benefit Plan, TRICARE, or education benefits? 


Click on the map to use the SOS Coordinator Locator and find the coordinator nearest to your home. 

A Survivor’s Story - Finding Connections

   As Surviving Family Members, you have probably been told over and over that it is important to stay connected, to find others who understand what you are experiencing. For some of you that may be an easy task. You may turn to your extended family for comfort or maybe you have formed those bonds of friendship that are unique in the military life. Or maybe you turn to your religious community to support. But what happens when these don’t feel right? How do you connect when the connections you had feel broken or wrong?

   Surviving Mother Karen M said that when she initially participated in events in her local military community after her son died by suicide in Iraq in 2011, she frequently felt like she needed to hide the circumstances of her son's death. She did not feel like she belonged at these events. It took Karen several years to find a place where she belonged. Eventually, her Survivor Outreach Services Coordinator asked her to speak during training for Casualty Assistance Officers. It was in these classes, Karen found not only her voice but a way to connect with her son and continue his service. Today, she shares both her son’s story and her experiences after his suicide. Karen has gained strength by breaking down the stigmas of suicide and helping other Soldiers who are struggling with their own mental health.

   Kylie W. struggled to find a way to stay connected as a young adult after she lost her father in Afghanistan. She found that as a Surviving Adult Daughter there were few opportunities to connect with others. She found purpose in joining the staff of a non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing college scholarships and educational counseling to military children who have lost a parent in the line of duty. This has allowed her the chance to stay connect and support other Surviving Children, letting them know that they are part of a community.

   Each individual will find their own place, at their own time. There is no blueprint for this journey that you are on, but there are incredible organizations with no other purpose than to help you find your strength and design the next steps of your journey. The Survivor Outreach Services Team encourages you to continue exploring different groups until you find the one that feels right to you. If you don’t know where to look, ask your Survivor Outreach Services Coordinator to help you locate organizations in your area.

Milestone Ahead Arrow

Changing Benefits: Milestone Management

Over the course of your journey as an Army Survivor, there are multiple milestones along your path that will impact the benefits and entitlements that you may be receiving. These milestones occur based on either a specified timeline, your age or marital status. The team at Army Survivor Outreach Services encourages you to become familiar with these milestones before they occur so you can prepare your family for the changes. You can use our Navigating Survivor Milestones guide to see the upcoming changes or look at the guides on specific benefits and entitlements. 

Please visit our Milestone page and talk to your Survivor Outreach Services Coordinator for more information and referrals.


Milestone Management


VA Survey QR Code

VA Wants Your Feedback

The VA's Office of Survivor Assistance (OSA) is seeking your feedback on how they are doing and what they can to do improve support to eligible Surviving Family Members. If you would like to share your feedback please click the link below or use the QR code to access a short, 8 questions survey.

Click here for VA Survey

ID Card

Survivor Access Card Announcement: 


Installation Management Command (IMCOM) recently published a standardized form to apply for a Survivor Access Card. The application is available for download at the link below. 

To apply for a Survivor Access Card, you must complete IMCOM Form 44 and submit it through your SOS Coordinator.  The card is valid for three years. More details are included on the application.

A couple of important notes about the Survivor Access Card:

1. You may receive either a Digital Automated Installation Entry card or the Survivor Access Card DA Form 1602. The type of card issued is determined by the installation entry procedures at the installation you are applying.

2. If you are planning to use your Survivor Access Card at a new installation for the first time you will need to register the card at the new location's visitor control center. You are encouraged to contact the installation you are visiting in advance to verify local procedures.

3. Eligible surviving Family members who meet the criteria to receive the Gold Star Lapel Button or Next of Kin (NOK) Lapel Button including widow or widower, parent, child, stepchild, child through adoption, brother, half–brother, sister and half–sister and stepsiblings are eligible to receive the Survivor Access Card. 

4. Surviving Family members who already have a military identification card granting installation access, such as a DD Form 1173 or Common Access Card (CAC) are not eligible to receive the Survivor Access Card.

Application for Survivor Access Card


DFAS News: SBP Changes


   The second phase of the repeal of the SBP/ DIC offset began this past January. The third and final phase will occur in January 2023 and at that time  the SBP-DIC offset will be fully eliminated.

   That means SBP recipients will begin to receive the full SBP gross benefit payments with no offset
(reduction). The first payday for Phase Three is February 1, 2023. 

   In addition to the offset elimination, the optional annuity for dependent children will be eliminated and the SBP Annuity will revert to Surviving Spouses. 

Click on the links below for additional details.




Home Ownership


The past two years have had a historic impact on home ownership in the United States. From record low interest rates to rapidly increasing rents and home prices, many Americans are left unsure of the best options.


If you are considering whether home ownership is an option, one important benefit that has not changed is the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) backed home loans. Eligible Surviving Spouses have options to use the VA for purchase loans or interest rate reduction refinance loans on existing VA mortgages.


If you are a Surviving Spouse and considering purchasing or seeking to reduce the interest rate on your existing mortgage you can contact the VA to verify your eligibility. 

VA Home Loans for Surviving Spouses

Online Survivor Benefit Report (OSBR) Updates

In February 2021, updates to the OSBR were made to make the report easier to read. You will now find a new graph that depicts the changes in monetary benefits over time, additional explanations of benefits, which benefits are taxable and other information to assist beneficiaries in knowing what benefits are today and what they will look like as your family goes through changes over time. Army SOS recommends that all beneficiaries review their OSBR annually. If you need assistance accessing your OSBR you can contact the FAST Team by calling 877-827-2471 or emailing

Click on the report to access the OSBR web site.


Summer is quickly coming and it is a great time to take advantage of free entrance to the National Parks for Veterans and Gold Star Families. Gold Star Families and US military veterans are eligible to receive free lifetime access to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including national parks, wildlife refuges, and forests. The free Military Pass is a way to thank America’s veterans, Gold Star Families, and current military and their dependents for their support of our country and to encourage them to explore recreational opportunities on their public lands and waters. For details on how to obtain a pass go to

Free Entrance to National Parks

Ringing Telephone

Dial and Dine: Financial Considerations Call for Military Survivors

Hosted by the Ft. Leonard Wood SOS Financial Counselor

What: These calls, held at least quarterly, provide a forum for Military Survivors and friends to ask questions on education tools and to better understand identity theft minimization, saving and investing, estate planning considerations, tax issues, insurance, potential financial resources and budgeting concerns in creating financial success and hear from various guest presenters and other peers.   

The next call will focus on Financial and Estate planning considerations especially for Military Spouses and their families. This will include a review of the resources available for Retirement and Legacy planning; Financial and Estate planning considerations in light of legislative changes; updates on home Real Estate Property Tax Abatement (where applicable); updates on upcoming SBP changes; Camps available for Military Survivor families; Community Partnerships; and will have an dialog on  specific potential Education Scholarship resources for K-PhD to include programs and initiatives various 501(c)3 groups are planning for 2023.

Where: The Call number is (1-605-475-5910; Access Code 7681905#)

When:  The next live call is Wednesday, July 20, 2022 7:00 pm Central


Click here to find more resources on the DCS, G-9 SOS Webpage


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