Military Law Task Force
National Lawyers Guild
318 Ortega Street
San Francisco, CA 94122
By Marti Hiken, Teresa Panepinto, Louis Font and Luke Hiken
Perhaps the most devastating loss a parent can suffer is the loss of a child. Untold numbers of families are going through such a mourning process with the death of their children in these current wars. This memo is written in the hope that some parents will take solace in knowing the circumstances under which their children died. Closure frequently requires a survivor to work through the last hours of their loved one’s life, not necessarily because that knowledge will bring peace or satisfaction, but because the uncertainty of how, why and when can be assuaged through an understanding of specifics.
Sometimes, knowing “how my son died,” or “where my daughter was when she was killed,” or “could his death have been avoided,” and more importantly, “am I being told the truth about when and how my loved one died,” can help put to rest the gnawing emptiness that fuels depression.
Perhaps there are too many contradictions with the reports and stories that everyone is telling. Perhaps the military was just too brash when they arrived at your doorstop and said your child committed suicide, when you knew he was going to be married in a couple of months, and happier than he had ever been. Maybe in your heart, you knew the military’s stories and reports didn’t mesh with what you had last talked about with your child. Maybe the stories from the friends in the unit just didn’t make sense.
The purpose of this memo is to provide the survivors a checklist of issues to consider upon notification that a loved one has died as a consequence of U.S. wars. It is merely a beginning framework and overview for those stricken by grief.
The Military Knocking on the Door – Notification of the Death
Many times parents actually have felt and are aware of the death before the knock on the door. We have heard atrocious stories from those who open that door. Of course, there is no easy way to deliver the news. The task must be daunting for those servicemembers who deliver the announcement of the death. Nevertheless, too often the pronouncement of the cause of death is delivered in a brusque, rude, and inaccurate manner. This can lead to anger for the loved ones later.
Many family members and friends feel that they need to know more details about the death than the military initially offers. They may want to know the exact time of death, how it happened, and other details.
Don’t stop your quest for information until you get the answers you desire.
Getting this information while grieving, however, can be quite difficult. Feelings of sadness, anguish, and grief may overtake the ability to ask these difficult questions. As one mother points out, “Somebody with a clear head in the family is needed at the time of death to look out after the interest of the family, because the grief is so overwhelming.” If the family does not have a civilian attorney to take care of these matters, a minister or close friend of the family might be able to help.
While others take care of these issues, you may take time to collect your thoughts. “Alone time” can be important. Keep in mind that someone in the family needs to be sure that the family’s best interests are kept at the forefront. As Nadia McCaffrey, whose son, Patrick, was killed in Iraq states: “The action taken by the military should be to consider the family first. As it is, what is good for the military comes first and not the family.”
At this point, start a chronological log of all contact with the military and other important events related to the quest for information regarding your loved one’s death. Maybe one friend or member of the family can be appointed as the secretary or scribe and be responsible for the log. Be sure to include names, addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses of all contacts, as well as a log of who calls and when. Also, include a list of those documents, photos, films, videos, and papers that you request and receive from the military.
During this time, the media may want to speak with you. The media, if it takes an interest in your case, can be your best friend or your worst enemy. (Be sure to read the media section later in this memo.)
Prior Information from the Soldier
Note that if the military labels the death a suicide or notifies you that this death was a suicide, the military might have done so because it is more convenient for them to report that, rather than the reality of what happened. Check closely the emails or letters that you received from your loved one before the death. Jot down notes from telephone conversations you might have had that you can remember. What were the plans of the unit or the military, that your loved one had talked to you about or raised? Was there a wedding planned? Was s/he depressed, suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Had s/he talked to a counselor, or perhaps s/he was excited because s/he was to leave the next day on a leave to come home?
Likewise, were there problems that your loved one was having with the military at the time of death? Were there issues your loved one was trying to raise up the chain of command? How did others in the unit feel about the state of mind or problems in the unit or squad?
How did the surrounding environment affect the conditions that your loved one was serving under? Were there bounties on American servicemembers in the area where your loved one served? Were other personnel not adequately trained? Had you heard problems with friendly fire incidents?
What was listed on the death certificate or investigative reports as the cause of death? Was the military neglectful in the death?
What hospitalization and medical care did your loved one receive?
Also, had your loved one written any blogs or set up any websites? Had his/her family? Was the military worried about political activity or shirking of duty on the part of members of that unit? Was retaliation on the part of the military a possibility? Had the family of the servicemember challenged the military in any way? And lastly, was it possible that your loved one had been “put on the front lines,” smoked, or hazed at any time?
Dover Air Force Base, Delaware – Transportation of the Body
The coffins arrive in isolation, away from family members at Dover Air Force Base. An honor guard carrying the casket or box with the body from the airplane that just arrived from Dover is not the same as a living relative welcoming a body home to American soil. Family members who insist on meeting the plane are refused permission by the Bush Administration for purely political purposes.
Coffins affect attitudes, and nothing turns the American people against the war more than seeing coffins. In effect, the grieving period of those denied access is further tossed into an unreal, ephemeral realm of experience when they are denied access to the remains of someone who just a short time ago they could reach out and touch. For many people, not meeting the body and the coffin separates them from what is natural and what should be part of a healing process. The coffin can be symbolic of a shared life held in common. It is cruel not to allow grieving families and the public access to the coffins.
The bodies arrive at Dover Air Force Base and then are flown home. Families will have a hearse waiting to pick up the body. In some instances, the military performs a small ceremony at the airport (in a warehouse or hangar, for example) upon arrival of the body. The body may also be transferred from a box to a coffin at this point. We have heard that families have not been allowed to view the body at this time; their wishes in this regard are ignored. Family members also have complained that they have been pushed aside, blocking their view of the box. In addition, when families ask military personnel in attendance at these ceremonies for information, they receive no response.
A motorcade transports the body from the airport to the funeral home.
At the point when the body arrives at the funeral home, the family still might be denied the opportunity to view the body until it has been made presentable. It is unlikely that the loved one will be clothed in the uniform s/he was wearing at the time of death; instead, s/he could be clothed in greens. Immediate family members might request the actual uniform and boots that the loved one was killed in. The military might say that it doesn’t have the uniform, however.
All of this makes the investigation of the condition of the body difficult and some family members have exhumed the body to get more information on the cause of death and the condition of the body. This might be important, for example, as it was with the Lavena Johnson case, a young woman who, according to the military, committed suicide. Her exhumed body showed, however, that the she was raped, and was beaten to death. If suicide is listed by the military as the cause of death of your loved one, it may be worth investigating the veracity of such a statement.
The military will attempt to control all aspects of the arrival of the body, including media access, regardless of what the family wants. One mother reports that an officer told her that they didn’t want the media present during her son’s arrival at the airport; an officer stated that it wasn’t proper for them to be there at the arrival of the box or at the funeral, that it was anti-American.
This is not to say, however, that the military does not have very respectful and helpful officers who coordinate the funeral arrangements and generally help the family. Sometimes such officers can be of tremendous help and solace to the family.
CHECK ALL ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE ARRIVAL AND FUNERAL! Be in charge! You will be grieving and you might not react to the situation as you normally would. Don’t let officers, officers’ wives, the media, or anyone else tell you how things “must be.” You decide how things will be.
Please take note that family members may receive a lot of paperwork to fill out at this point. There are forms from the White House, for the funeral, for the uniform, etc. Families have reported that such paperwork can be very helpful in letting them know what is going to happen.
There are options for the funeral and burial. Servicemembers must write wills before they go into combat areas. They might be very clear about what they want upon death, and most families choose to respect those wishes. Choices to consider, for example, are cremation or burial. To be buried at Arlington National Cemetary, a soldier must be cremated. Some servicemembers don’t want this.
The military will cover a portion of the expenses for the funeral and tombstone. The military will provide the tombstone as well as its wording. Some families object to the wording “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” for example, especially if the servicemember had not wanted to participate in the war and had been stop-lossed or otherwise involuntarily forced through the backdoor into the military. Thousands of soldiers are told by recruiters that they will never go to Iraq and are very resentful of the lies so readily told to them. Others might be very angry at their treatment while in the service and at the lack of equipment and training they received. There are a multitude of reasons a family or a servicemember would not wish the military to impose its wording on the tombstone.
Families have complained vociferously in those circumstances where the military defines and determines the actual service and ignores the wishes of the family. Some family members have complained that they requested to speak at the funeral and the military denied the request. Immediate family members also have been told that they can’t sit in the front pews during the ceremony.
Problems with the media also have presented themselves at funerals. Family members have requested media presence at the funeral ceremony and the military either has denied such a request, or limited the media’s presence to a restricted area, such as outside of the church where the service was held. While the military places limits on media presence, it might film the ceremony itself. If so, request a copy of the film. The request will likely be denied, especially if the death has given rise to questions and the military does not want information surrounding the death to be public.
In addition to controlling the media presence at funeral services, the military may try to control civilians in attendance as well; such was the case at the funeral of Sgt. Patrick McCaffrey.
McCaffrey, a soldier from Tracy, CA, was killed in Iraq during an ambush near Balad, in 2004. He had been ambushed and shot multiple times with automatic weapons. The attack came from both sides of his body; bullets pierced through the sides of his "bulletproof" vest causing his death. At his funeral, a veteran wearing a Veterans for Peace t-shirt was asked to leave the ceremony by the military, thus denying this veteran the opportunity to honor the life of Patrick. Nadia McCaffrey, Patrick’s mother, feels the military did not want the media to see the veteran.
For those whose only funeral services occur on military bases, they face additional challenges. The military has announced that there only will be funeral services on base once a month for all those who died that month. So, some families will have to wait over 30 days before the services are held. This is most distressing to those whose lives are centered on the base and don’t have the resources available for private funerals.
This regulation on military funerals might be helpful to family members:
Department of Defense Instruction 1300.15, Military Funeral Support, October 22, 2007, http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/130015p.pdf
First Steps of the Investigation -- Circumstances Surrounding the Death
For those parents or loved ones who wish to know how and when their son, daughter, husband, wife, or other relative died, there are a series of steps they can take to ascertain as much as possible about the circumstances of when and how the tragedy occurred. This section lists the steps to take to get information regarding the circumstances of the death of your loved one. The section after it, “Approaching the Military,” explains how to go about performing these tasks.
Throughout your investigation, keep a record of what information you are seeking, and from whom you are seeking it.
1) Obtain a copy of the deceased’s birth certificate. You may obtain a birth certificate by contacting the Office of Vital Records in the city or state where the deceased was born. For contact information for all Offices of Vital Records in the U.S., go to
2) Contact the Commanding Officer of the unit in which the deceased was serving, and explain that you would like to speak with someone who is knowledgeable about the death of your loved one. Obtain as accurate a verbal description of what occurred as possible. Note names, dates and information about people who were present when the servicemember died.
Note that it is likely the military will order those servicemembers who served with the deceased or with those up the chain of command not to speak to the family or its representative. However, especially for those who no longer serve and who are retired from the military, they may call the parents, spouse or relative because they might want to provide condolences or information about the specifics surrounding the death. These veterans might need to grieve also.
3) Ask that a report be prepared pursuant to the regulation appropriate for your loved one’s branch of service. For the Army, that regulation is Army Regulation, 15-6: Procedures for Investigating Officers and Boards of Officers, 2 October 2006, available at http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/r15_6.pdf
An important part of any report prepared pursuant to this authority is an autopsy report. The autopsy occurs at Dover Air Force Base or at a base in Virginia. The autopsy reports and photos can take years to get, unless there is legal pressure from the family.
4) If the military does not prepare a report in a timely manner, file a complaint with the Inspector General of the branch of service, complaining about the failure to have met your request.
5) If you cannot obtain internal military cooperation, seek congressional assistance in determining the truth about the circumstances of your loved one’s death.
6) If all other approaches fail, consider retaining the services of an attorney to assist you in getting the information sought.
7) Seek the assistance of the media, and other investigative resources.
8) Keep at least two copies of your records and files – keep one copy in a safe place. It might be necessary later to mail a copy to a lawyer, Congressperson, the media or doctor.
Finding the Answers
Approaching the Military
How should you approach the military in trying to find answers to your questions? It is important to realize that you should start out with the assumption that the military is honest, that there are no catch-22’s, and, that the military wants to bend over backwards to help you. Be direct and assertive, but polite.
Be aware that when you are stonewalled (which you most likely will be), you escalate your approach.
Also be aware that the military may be obnoxious and work against your efforts to find the truth.
This is the time when the hurt, pain and anger can be channeled into a final passage where you are defending the memory of your loved one. Be aware at the beginning of your quest that getting the answers may likely mean eventually filing a lawsuit in order to obtain copies of military records. By filing a lawsuit, you may be able to access copies of military records that were previously unavailable. Obtaining records through this process is called “discovery.”
Start a chronological file and note the names and addresses of those with whom you speak and all actions taken related to your investigation.
Seek outside, competent civilian counseling help for yourself, if necessary. Track down others who have gone through what you have gone through. Organizations such as Gold Star Mothers, Gold Star Mothers for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace, and Iraq Veterans for Peace can all be helpful.
Call or write to members of your loved one’s unit, your loved one’s friends, and your loved one’s commanding officer. Get the contact information, including email addresses, of the unit abroad where the death occurred, as well as the name and home addresses of each unit member. You might want to tell members of your loved one’s unit that you would like to hear from them and have many questions concerning the facts and circumstances of your loved one’s death. Let the members of the unit know that you are willing to hear back from the person as soon as possible or at any time in the future. Let them know that you are willing to speak with a unit member confidentially. If this person is under orders not to speak with you, there is always a chance that the person will get back in touch with you once reassigned to another unit, discharged from the military, or transferred back to the United States.
You might want to check out the military’s website for the Army Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Operation Center, located in Alexandria, Virginia. It states as its purpose, “...to assist Army families in an emotionally stressful time of bereavement.”
Download from the internet the appropriate regulation from the branch in which your loved one was a member. For the Army, for example, that would be AR 15-6. If you need help wading through the regulation, a counselor or attorney may be able to help you.
Confidential Sources and Information
Sometimes a family may receive communications from persons inside the military who want to provide information on a confidential basis. This may happen as early as the funeral. The source of information may say such things as: "I'm telling you this because this is what happened, but I will get in trouble because I am not supposed to tell you." This is a serious matter. We think it is usually best to keep the source of the information private so as to continue to receive information from the source and possibly from other sources as well. Be aware that telling a casualty officer, Congressperson, or other person in authority the family's source of information may go straight to the Pentagon.
In our experience there have been instances in which sources whose identities have been revealed to the military or to Congress are called in for questioning by military authorities. Such questioning can be career-threatening and usually is for the purpose of the military plugging "leaks" rather than broadening an investigation into the facts and circumstances of a loved one's death. A family may feel on the defensive and may be told that in order to get an investigation started or on track that all information should be provided to the military or Congress, but providing the source of confidential information may quickly end any additional, helpful, unauthorized, and true information from reaching the family.
Instead of revealing a confidential source's identity, a family member may want to assure the source that their identity will be kept confidential as much as possible (i.e., not turned over to the military or to Congress), and urge the source to provide additional information, including the identities of other sources. Over time, as the confidential source learns that information can be provided to the family without the source getting into trouble, more information may be forthcoming. Be sure to question the confidential source about all aspects of the death of a loved one.
Seek an Inspector General (IG) Investigation. Each branch of the military has an Office of the Inspector General, whose responsibility it is to investigate incidents of fraud, waste, abuse, and general threats to morale and safety.
If you request an IG investigation, also request that the military provide you with a copy of the investigation results and the information upon which the results are based. Ask for the entire IG report. Contacting the IG may provide the military the opportunity to cover itself by conducting a cursory, perfunctory, or cover-up “investigation” and concluding that all proper procedures were followed and no wrongdoing occurred -- this is the military protecting the military. But it could be that the investigation will be properly done and the end result may be information that is helpful, useful and new.
For further information on filing an IG complaint, go to the website listed below that corresponds with your branch of service:
· Navy: http://www.ig.navy.mil/
· Marines: http://hqinet001.hqmc.usmc.mil/ig/Div_Assistance_Investigations/Complaints/Submit%20A%20Complaint.htm
· Air Force: http://www.hq.af.mil/resources/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=7628
· Coast Guard: http://www.dhs.gov/xoig/ (As the Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the DHS Inspector General is the proper contact for Coast Guard IG complaints.)
You may want to request any other possible investigation by the military that the military can conduct given the particular facts and circumstances of your case. The Navy, for instance, may conduct a Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) investigation, and/or a “JAGMAN” investigation, which is an investigation conducted by legal authorities.
Results of Investigations
Once you have obtained any investigative report, be sure to review it carefully. You may find flaws, areas of inquiry that were overlooked or not developed fully. You may have a number of questions. You might want to take your concerns and questions and request a follow-up investigation. This, for instance, is what the Pat Tillman family did. With the help of the media, concerned members of Congress, and others, the Army was compelled by circumstances to conduct a number of investigations in that case: at least two AR 15-6 investigations, a CID (Criminal Investigation Division) investigation, and additional command-directed investigations to address specific questions raised by the family after the military provided them with the results of other investigations.
In other words, do not give up once provided with the results of an investigation. That is precisely the time to review what has been provided, and request other investigations, as appropriate, to get to the bottom of the facts and circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death.
File a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for possible reports done or information obtained by the military, the FBI, and other government agencies. You just never know what might be uncovered.
To file a FOIA request, simply write a letter to each government agency from which you seek information. For example, you may write, “I request a copy of any and all records related to [inserted the deceased’s name here].” Be sure to include in the letter that you are making this request pursuant to FOIA. To see a sample FOIA request letter, go to the MLTF website at www.nlgmltf.org. Click on Home page, Current Information, FOIA Complaint.
Information to request in a FOIA Claim:
-File against the Department of Defense, FBI, CID (Criminal Investigation Department – Army) or the investigative divisions of the other branches, CENTCOM (The Unified Commands), State National Guard, IG (Inspector General).
-Ask for all reports, ROE (Rules of Engagement and FRAGOs), orders, directives, and memos pertaining to the unit in which your loved one served, or in operation at the time she served.
-Ask for all copies of servicemember’s emails, letters, and blogs.
-Ask for the names of all those in the unit and the entire Chain of Command, and
the names of all the soldiers and COs (Commanding Officers) up and down the chain of command.
-Ask for all information/investigations regarding possible leaks from the Pentagon or Departments of Defense and Justice pertaining to this case and resulting investigations.
-Ask for any reports, notes, and memos on the servicemember’s behavior – his/her entire military history, military records (including medical records), investigations (including the AR15-6 report), communications, orders, directives, and possible charges and punishments (especially in Iraq).
Request all films and videos concerning the servicemember, including the one at the funeral.
-Ask for the uniform and boots the servicemember wore at the time of death, and other personal items.
-Try to get back any personal computer or laptop owned by your loved one. We have had at least one report of a laptop computer that was altered by the military so that a deceased servicemember’s family could not log on and get all information on the computer. There are other instances in which photographs of the deceased loved one were ordered destroyed. You may want to ask any members of your loved one’s unit, or his or her friends, about items such as computers and photographs.
Seek a Congressional Inquiry. A Congressional Inquiry occurs when a Member of Congress requests information from the military about a particular situation, such as the accidental death of a servicemember. The results will depend on the individual integrity of the Congressperson. We have found that most of the time, Congresspeople respond to complaints, emergencies, and problems for those who are serving inside the military by stamping a form packet with a Congressional stamp, and then delivering it to the military. The military then responds that all is fine, and the Congresspeople feel that they have done what is required of them.
This process has not led to satisfactory results for the overwhelming majority of servicemembers who have engaged in it. However, as a constituent, you might have a bit more weight in this situation, and therefore, more satisfactory results. If you find a sympathetic Congressperson, you might create a more adequate and responsible response from the military.
You might want to consider asking the Congressperson to obtain answers and additional information for you pertaining specifically to the results of investigations that you have received, analyzed, and about which you have concerns.
To find the name and contact information for your member of Congress, go to http://www.house.gov/writerep/.
Contacting the Media
Contacting the media should always be done in the context of an overall strategy. If you are represented by legal counsel, you should have a frank discussion with your lawyer about how you want to pursue your case. Develop an overall strategy as well as an overall media strategy. You might decide to have a press conference to inform the public about the fact that you want answers and the truth about the situation surrounding your loved one’s death. If you decide to hold a press conference, have written press releases ready, stage the hour and place of it, and be ready for questions. Make sure that your name and contact information is on the press release. You don’t want others speaking or answering for you.
Another possibility is that the media ignores your case when you want to make it public. The media can easily ignore the central questions you have as to what occurred at the time of death or the military’s role from the beginning. Think about circulating a petition asking for re-opening the investigation into the death, create a website about the death of your loved one, or, create a fact sheet about the case.
The media can be overwhelming when the death is in the public view and interest. They might hound you when they find out about the death; they may knock on your door, look into your windows, stand outside your house, telephone you, and otherwise confront you. Some family members who have been in the public view have received death threats and other threatening leaflets or telephone calls. Of course, not all of the contact is negative. Family members report receiving letters and phone calls of condolences and support as well.
The media can also be very helpful. They can support and care for the family. They can pressure and get information from the military. The family might feel that the military should give more leeway and freedom to the media and not restrict them. The media can also keep the questions the family wants to pursue in the forefront and in the view of the public, the Department of Defense and other government agencies.
Likewise, the media can easily ignore the central questions you have as to what occurred at the time of death or the military’s role in that death.
The media can sometimes apply pressure or be very useful and helpful in getting information for the families from the military. Sometimes the military leaks information to the media because it serves its needs; sometimes it is the family who wants to pressure the military through the press. Whatever the case might be, realize that it is important to be very cautious. It might be helpful to have a family spokesperson or the family attorney represent the family to the media.
Getting the Evidence – Other Considerations
When you examine the evidence obtained from the military, describe the evidence and make a list of what is available.
There most likely will be rumors floating everywhere about what happened. It can be difficult separating the chaff from the grain. There can be collateral investigations going on. IDs, dates, and names will likely be redacted from the military documents to which you have access. Get used to the word “redacted” when initiating investigations. Government and military agencies and personnel may not answer questions, stall you, and balk at helping you get information. The military can simply say that pertinent information was lost or that they can’t find it.
Friendly fire is the term used to describe the firing of any weapon upon friendly units, such as when a U.S. servicemember accidentally fires on another U.S. servicemember, potentially resulting in injury and/or death. It is an issue because it causes unnecessary deaths and tragedies that could have been avoided. In addition, and equally important, is the fact that friendly fire incidents speak to poor command control, communication, decision-making, knowledge, training, and practice. It shows negligence and poor judgment on the part of the military.
A significant fraction of the Americans who die in Iraq die due to accidents. John Pike, a military expert with GlobalSecurity.org, reports, "There were more U.S. service members killed in accidents than were killed in action during the first Gulf War back in 1991."
The media has reported that the deaths of up to one-half of those who have died could be from non-hostile causes.
Seek Discovery through a Lawsuit and Legal Challenges
You arrive eventually where the truth is far removed, the stories are contradictory, and there are no answers that please you. At this point, you can file a lawsuit to demand that the military turn over ALL its information to you. This is critical. We all know that the military keeps records about everything, so go after those records.
Getting Support from Members of Congress and Initiating Congressional Hearings
Famous football star Patrick Tillman was killed in Afghanistan by friendly fire. His family and their local Congressperson, Mike Honda, have pursued the matter to the point of a Congressional hearing trying to find out how far up the chain of command the cover-up went. Congressional hearings provide Congress the opportunity to gain information about a matter of importance to them. These hearings often include testimony of witnesses before Congress, as well as the submission of reports and other documents. During the Pat Tillman hearing, a supportive Congressperson, Lacy Clay, brought up Lavena Johnson’s case and demanded that the Army release all its evidence to the Committee, including original photos.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Although this memo pertains to the investigation of casualties in-country during combat, it is important to mention that for those who have returned home suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), they most likely are still engaged in battle.
For example, Kevin and Joyce Lucey filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that the government’s failure to treat veterans cost their son his life. A wrongful death lawsuit is when the family sues for the loss of a loved one. It can only be done in a civilian context, neither as a challenge to the military or government officials nor while the servicemember is in the military.
[See Note number 6 below]
It’s important for family members to think about what they want and need in order to grieve the loss of their loved one, and start their healing process. For some, it is getting answers to the questions of why or how their loved one died. For others, it is wanting to hold the military accountable for the actions that caused the death. This process can be difficult, but is worthwhile.
Many family members report the healing effects of getting more information about the circumstances surrounding their loved one’s death. It is just one of many ways they have honored the life of the person near and dear to them.
1.) AR 15-6
15-6 Investigation Officer Guidelines
Investigating Officer’s Guide for AR 15-6 Informal Investigations
Office of the Staff Judge Advocate
Rights in Waiving Procedure/Waiver Certificate
(To provide commanders and law enforcement officials with means by which information may be accurately identified)
A comprehensive Guide for Investigating Officers
2.) Procedure for Investigating Officers and Boards of Officers
3.) Patrick Tillman Inspector General Review
Review of Matters Related to the Death of Corporeal Patrick Tillman U.S. Army
See “Army Reprimands in Tillman Case Mild” http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/081107C.shtml
By Martha Mendoza, The Associated Press, 10 August 2007
Patrick McCaffrey's case - The Veteran's Village
4.) Article: “Still Seeking Answers in the U.S. Checkpoint Shooting,” by Fritzroy Sterling
Article about the incident involving the shooting of Giuliana Sgrena
5.) Lavena Johnson’s case
6.) Note re Wrongful Death Lawsuits
[From Democracy Now Interview]
“Joyce and Kevin Lucey say their son Jeffrey hanged himself after the U.S. military refused to deal with his post-traumatic stress disorder. In May 2004, Jeffrey's parents had him involuntarily committed to a VA hospital. But the hospital discharged him after a few days. Two weeks later, Kevin Lucey came home to find his son hanging from a hose in the cellar. Lying on his bed were the dog tags of two unarmed Iraqi prisoners Jeffrey had said he was forced to shoot.”
7.) Other Resources
Gold Star Families Speak Out, www.gsfso.org/
Military Families Speak Out, www.mfso.org
Veterans for Peace, www.veteransforpeace.org/
Iraq Veterans Against War, www.ivaw.org
-- Submitted by Renee Thurlow
Reprinted with permission of the author