Dealing with the Death of a Military Family Member

Hosted For Veterans, Families, Friends and All

Knowing what to say to a family when someone passes away is difficult – even when the death was expected. Death is never easy on any family.

However, when a person in the military is killed, it can be even more difficult to know what to say, what not to say or what to do. How do you offer support?

It could be that the death affects your friend, your neighbor or your family. It could be that the death affects a veteran you know because his or her friend was killed.

To help families of current and past military members, veterans and others, “Dealing with the Death of a Military Family Member” will be held at 6 p.m., Wednesday, March 22, in the Central Resource Center on the Penn Highlands DuBois West campus, 204 Hospital Ave., DuBois.

This is sponsored by Community Connections of Clearfield/Jefferson Counties, Service Access & Management Inc. (SAM), and Penn Highlands Healthcare, and it is the annual Veterans Health Summit held through this partnership.

The speakers for this event are Katie Chipman, PhD, a licensed, clinical psychologist with the Behavioral Health Clinic and Home-Based Primary Care with the DuBois VA Community Outpatient Clinic, DuBois, and Jack Tully of Falls Creek, Gold Star Father, who lost his son, SFC Michael J. Tully who was killed in action in Iraq on Aug. 23, 2007.

Veterans should attend, Jack and his wife, Marilyn Tully, said “but anyone who has suffered a loss may find words of comfort.”

This program will help parents, family and friends to help veterans or others who suffer “survivor’s guilt.” Survivor’s guilt is when a person perceives themselves to have done wrong by surviving a traumatic event when others did not. It will help people learn how to heal.

“We were fortunate to have the support system that was in place with the Special Operations community, Mike’s team, and family and friends which includes church family, veterans’ groups and community in general, and from people who reached out from across the country,” the Tullys said. But not everyone is so fortunate or knows what to say or not say.

There are little things that mean a lot to families. “To not be afraid to ask about our son,” the Tullys said was one. “Yes, there may be tears - and we believe that most families would agree - asking about and our telling about our loved ones is an opportunity to keep their memory alive.”

“Anytime you can reach out and share is a good thing, you just never know when your words, thoughts, or hug could be just what a person needed at that time,” they said. A little knowledge now could go a long way later.

There is no fee to attend. A free, hot buffet dinner will be provided. RSVPs, however, are required by March 15 to 814-375-3428,[email protected] or by mail to Organizational Development at PO Box 447, DuBois. If you leave or send a message, please give your name, number attending, your address, phone number and e-mail.