Survivors find easier access to Army installations
CAMP ZAMA, Japan , March 18, 2020 - 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 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 and receive services using their survivor’s access card, or long-term installation access pass at overseas locations.
“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.”
Eligible survivors are those 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, brother, half-brother, sister and half-sister.
Those who are eligible and who want to visit Camp Zama, Sagamihara Family Housing Area or Sagami Depot should contact the Survivor Outreach Services team at the Camp Zama Army Community Service to begin the application process and background check to obtain a long-term installation access pass.
The installation access pass will be valid for up to one year and can be renewed by repeating the application process through SOS. Survivors visiting overseas installations from stateside locations may use their survivor’s access card to gain access.
“The survivor population at Camp Zama is not large, but we make sure the community is educated on [benefits like] the Gold Star lapel and next-of-kin lapels,” said Mary Wanjohi, the survivor services coordinator here.
The SOS program provides dedicated and comprehensive support through a network of civilians serving as advocates for survivors. SOS staff can assist survivors to access benefits available to them at their local installation, such as career and financial counseling.
“We work closely with the casualty assistance officer to effectively support survivors assigned to our community,” Wanjohi said. “We support survivors by providing resources wherever needed, including providing translations and connecting them to the military community here.”
Other efforts from SOS include three designated SOS parking spaces on Camp Zama: at the Exchange, the commissary and at ACS.
There is also a Gold Star bench located at the SFHA commissary. The bench is repainted each year near Memorial Day.
To track survivors’ feedback on the new installation access process, the Interactive Customer Evaluation survey added new questions to help determine customer satisfaction with outreach efforts. Local community members can visit https://ice.disa.mil, search for “Camp Zama,” click the “Family” tab on the left side of the page, and scroll down to find the link to the “DFMWR_ACS_Survivor Outreach Services” page. From there, they can fill out a feedback form.
“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 A. 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.
For more information on Survivor Outreach Services, visit https://www.armymwr.com/programs-and-services/personal-assistance/survivor-outreach.
Survivors from all branches of service in the Camp Zama community can get connected to SOS by calling ACS at (DSN) 315-263-4357 or (COMM) 046-407-4357.