Friday, May 2, 2008

Casualty Officers

Before a military member goes to active duty, the family is instructed that, if their loved one is injured, they will receive a phone call. The only way the family will receive an in-person visit from military personnel is if their soldier has died. How's that for non-verbal communication?

From Wednesday's Fresh Air with Terry Gross: a talk with journalist Jim Sheeler and Marine Colonel Steve Beck. Beck's was a "casualty officer," charged with notifying family members of the passing of their loved ones. I did not even realize that there was such a specific job, although now thinking about it, I can understand why it would be necessary to have a specific officer dedicated to the task. ... and what a service to the country to do this for our fallen soldiers and their families.

The book is called Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives. Sheeler has won a Pulitzer Prize for his writings about Beck. You can read an excerpt of his book here, and you can hear the interview here. I haven't read the book, at least not yet, but I highly recommend the interview.

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