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Sunday, July 14, 2024 - 06:28 PM


First Published in 1994


Shane-OstromIn the event that a military spouse passes away, there are some things that need to be taken care of to make the transition for those left behind much easier. This week the Hyatt Regency in downtown Greenville hosted the South Carolina MOAA (Military Officers Association of America) 2013 conference where Lt. Col. USAF Ret. Shane Ostrom, Deputy Director, Benefits and Financial Information, from MOAA National conducted a meeting explaining benefits, updates and how to prepare.

After the death of a spouse the MOAA is there to help those in need walk through the experience, give information and counsel. Ostrom has seen many left behind not knowing how to proceed without their significant other still in their life. On some occasions all the information that the widow was given was to call the MOAA after the passing of the military spouse.

“We can’t fill out paperwork because we don’t have legal authority to get involved in your personal financial situations and if I call up DFAS who administers most of these pay programs and I tell them I’m calling for you, guess what kind of response I’m going to get. It won’t go over well,” said Ostrom. “We just don’t have that ability.”

The MOAA will do everything in their power to step someone through the process, but there are limitations to how far they can help. They will be available to direct someone on what forms to fill out and who to call, but there are certain things that the couple should prepare before an untimely passing.

A complete record of all personal affairs like wills, bank accounts, income taxes and stocks and bonds will be a valuable asset. All documentation like birth, marriage and death certificates should be readily available.

Another important preparation that should be completed is making sure there are living expenses for at least 60 to 90 days available after the sponsor’s death.

“Make sure you have cash set aside because I get people calling MOAA all the time wanting to know what we can do to get them money to tie them over until they get their payments rolling in,” said Ostrom.

Although he may be a financial advisor he doesn’t have an account available from the MOAA waiting to pay people as they go through the process.

Ostrom also recommends that autopsies are conducted on the passing sponsor. If those left behind can show that the death was connected to service related injuries or sickness and it is documented, it will help the survivor get Veteran Affairs benefits.

There is a publication available through the MOAA to help survivors answer some of their questions. The book is titled Help Your Survivors Now and can be found through their website at www.moaaorg. A PDF of the book can also be found online.