Free Resources for Survivors

Flags next to headstones in a military cemetery

Following the death of a loved one, you may have a million questions running through your mind. Knowing where to turn for answers after the death of a loved one may get you the support and information you need in the days, weeks and months ahead. Even if you don't think you need help right now, it's good to know it's there if you do.

Reliable programs and services are available to you for free and provide immediate and long-term assistance with applying for benefits, financial counseling, education benefits, grief counseling and support, free products and more.


The following resources and services can help you determine and apply for benefits:

  • Casualty assistance officer — Your appointed casualty assistance officer is provided by the Department of Defense and should be your primary contact for questions and concerns. Your casualty assistance officer can help make sense of the paperwork and terminology, and help you apply for benefits and make funeral arrangements.
  • Death Gratuity fact sheet — This document provides information about the death gratuity, a benefit provided by the Department of Defense.
  • A Survivor's Guide to Benefits, Taking Care of our Families — The Department of Defense's essential brochure gives you a clear picture of how the department will help you, starting with your first meeting with your casualty assistance officer. It covers planning the funeral or memorial service, and the application and processing of all benefits and entitlements.
  • Interactive Online Survivor Benefits Report fact sheet — This interactive report shows your current benefits and is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It also lets you input "what if" scenarios to see future benefits. To access the report, you will need a DS logon Premium account and password. If you do not already have one, you may visit the Defense Manpower Data Center. If you need assistance, contact the Family Assistance Support Team by calling 877-827-2471 or by emailing
  • The Days Ahead — Use this comprehensive binder and organizing tool to help you stay organized in the days after your loved one's death.
  • Gold Star and Surviving Family Member Representative — Survivor advocates provide support and address issues or concerns of spouses and dependents regarding casualty assistance or authorized military survivor benefits.

Each military service provides a warm hand-off from your casualty assistance officer to long-term survivor care, which begins when you no longer need the help of your casualty assistance officer.

Financial counseling


"A Survivor's Guide to Benefits" as your quick reference for survivor benefits.

Planning for your family's financial future after the loss of a loved one can be difficult.

  • Free financial counseling services are offered to beneficiaries of Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance, Family Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance and Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection by Financial Point. Contact Financial Point at 888-243-7351 or via email at
  • The services' long-term survivor care programs and Military OneSource also provide free financial counseling services.

Education benefits and special preference employment programs

These resources can help you find education benefits for you and your children and give you tips for entering or re-entering the workplace:

  • Scholarships and grants — Education benefits for survivors are available through the Department of Veterans Affairs, scholarships and grants, which don't have to be paid back.
  • Special preference employment programs — Survivors may be eligible for special preference programs for employment with the federal government. Find out about joining the workforce and making your job hunt a bit easier.

Installation access


Military OneSource or call 800-342-9647 to find out more about free resources available to survivors.

Eligible surviving family members may still access installation amenities like the commissary, exchange, TRICARE and Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities. Surviving spouses always have a place in the military community.

Grief support

Grieving the loss of a loved one can be overwhelming and even paralyzing at times. Being with others who understand grief or having the right resources that meet your needs may help you with the grieving process.

  • Military OneSource Casualty Assistance — This page provides tools, resources and articles to help you understand and access important benefits, information and support throughout the grieving and healing process.
  • Department of Veterans Affairs — The Department of Veterans Affairs provides bereavement counseling to surviving family members, including transition services such as outreach, counseling and referral services.
  • Bereavement camps — Adults, children and teens can get education and emotional support at bereavement camps, where you can tell your story if you want, express your feelings and make long-lasting friendships with people who understand what you're going through. Grief professionals and trained volunteers work with survivors in a seminar or camp environment.
  • Confidential non-medical counseling — A Military OneSource service, counseling can be accessed 24/7 by calling 800-342-9647 or contacting the Military and Family Life Counseling program on your installation. Talk with someone today - face to face, online or on the phone.

The following resources are available to you and your family and are described in "The Days Ahead, Essential Papers for Families of a Fallen Service Member":

  • American Gold Star Mothers Inc.
  • American Widow Project
  • Give an Hour
  • Gold Star Wives of America Inc.
  • National Military Family Association Inc.
  • Navy SEAL Foundation
  • Snowball Express
  • Special Operations Warrior Foundation
  • Special Ops Survivors
  • Survivor Outreach Services
  • Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors
  • Travis Manion Foundation
  • United Service Organizations

Free Military OneSource products


Find programs and services at your local installation.

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