Bereavement

Overview

The loss of any family member is always very hard to cope with but we understand that it can be particularly difficult for those who lose a loved one whilst serving in the Army.

Please check our COVID-19 section for up-to-date information, as the coronavirus outbreak may affect the advice given on this page.

Contents

01   First steps

Who do I need to tell?

In the event of a serving person’s death whilst with their family, the family should inform the unit.

If the serving person dies whilst on holiday, the family need to let the Army know by calling the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC).

You may also find these sources of information helpful:

What to do when someone dies: Step by Step
Tell us Once Service

How will I find out if something has happened?

Once the Army is aware of the death of a serving person, the Bereavement Aftercare Support (BAS) team will inform the local regional organisation to ensure that a Casualty Notification Officer (CNO) is sent to visit the next of kin. Their job is to inform the family of the difficult news of a serving person’s death.

Sometimes it may be that the local police may visit the family to inform them but the Army will then send the CNO as soon as possible.

Who can support me immediately?

Once the CNO has informed the family, they are replaced by the Visiting Officer (VO), who will be the single point of contact between the family and the Army during this difficult time. They will help, advise and support the family.

They may be from the same part of the Army as the serving person or from a more local unit.

The Padre, or appropriate faith leader, can also provide support and help to the family, if wished.

As part of the VO’s support for the family, they will provide them with the Purple Pack, which provides guidance for families through the practical elements of bereavement, such as funerals, entitlements and benefits, as well as providing links to further support networks.

Will the Army help me arrange a funeral?

The VO can help organise the funeral. Funerals can be held at public expense. Costs, such as the order of service, flowers, second cars and a newspaper announcement, would not be covered but support for these costs could be met by the grant from the Army Dependants’ Trust (see below for more information).

After the funeral, the family can also access funding of £1000 to assist with further related costs, such as travel to memorial events.

Who will explain what I am entitled to?

Within 48 hours, a welfare manager from Veterans UK will contact the VO to arrange an appointment with the family to explain more about their financial entitlements, both state and military. They will take into account when is the right time for the family to speak to them.

They can provide information on the Armed Forces pension, compensation and other entitlements.

Who are the Army Dependants’ Trust?

The Army Dependants’ Trust is a charity which provides discretionary cash grants to dependants/next of kin of soldiers who die in Service, from whatever cause, to relieve immediate financial hardship to the member’s family.

If the serving partner was a member, the family could receive up to £15,000. This is free from tax and available immediately to help the family with any short-term debt (credit cards, car finance) or ongoing expenses, such as mortgage payments, or with additional funeral costs. The trust is automatically notified of a member’s death and takes all the necessary action.

The serving person can sign up via their Unit Admin Office and pay a £8.75 per year donation, which is deducted automatically from their January pay.

For more details, contact them on 01980 615734.

Who are the JCCC?

JCCC is the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre. They manage British Armed Forces casualties and compassionate cases and are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. They will liaise with the BAS.

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02   Housing

How long can I stay in my SFA?

There is no immediate urgency to vacate the SFA and families will be given the time and space to assess their longer-term housing requirements.

If you live in the UK

Following the death in Service of the Service person, the spouse/civil partner should be offered an entitlement to stay in their SFA/SSFA for up to two years in order to help them consider where they wish to live. Their final removal costs will also be paid.

If the spouse wishes to move closer to an immediate family member or child’s school within 12 months of the bereavement, then they can apply to move.  They will be housed in SFA/SSFA as close as possible to their specified location within a 50-mile radius and will continue to pay entitled rental rates.  Removals and Disturbance Expense will also be paid. 

They will pay SFA charges for the type and band of SFA they live in (the charges may increase in line with a CAAS transition pathway or the annual charge review) and CILOCT charges may be reduced by 25% for single occupancy.

If you live overseas

Many spouses will wish to return to UK as soon as possible after bereavement to be with relatives and friends, in order to ease both the grieving process and the transition back into the civilian community. If they choose to do this, they would be entitled to be relocated at public expense (removals and Disturbance Expense paid). They will be entitled to SFA/SSFA in the UK in a preferred area of their choice, which may be within 50 miles of either the home of an immediate member of their family or child’s school.

When the family returns to the UK, they will be offered the option to stay in SFA/SSFA for a two-year period to enable them to determine their longer-term housing requirements and will pay entitled rates (as for UK above).

For more details, please see JSP 464, Volume 1, Annex B to Chapter 3

How do I apply for social housing?

Please see the Civilian Housing page for more details on how to apply for social housing. The VO can also assist with any application. The Army will pay for any removal costs.

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03   Education & children

I don’t currently claim CEA but could I start?

Families would not be entitled to begin a new claim for CEA.

We currently claim CEA, does that mean we are no longer entitled?

Existing CEA will continue to be paid up to the end of the current stage of education or for up to two full terms after the term in which the death occurred, whichever is the longest.

If the child is already studying for public examinations, CEA will continue to be paid for up to 4 years or to the end of the term in which the child takes the examination and then leaves school, whichever is soonest.

Is there anyone that can help us with education costs?

Armed Forces Bereavement Scholarship

If the serving parent died whilst serving in the Armed Forces and their death was deemed to be attributable to their Service, and the child is post-GCSE and moving into further or higher education, they may be eligible for the Armed Forces Bereavement Scholarship.

Armed Forces Education Trust

The Armed Forces Education Trust provides grants, which families may be eligible to apply for.

Army Widows Association

Visit www.armywidows.org.uk/support/childrens-education

Who can support my children?

There are a number of charities and support organisations that can offer children support during this difficult time:

Scotty’s Little Soldiers
Child Bereavement UK
Winston’s Wish
Childhood Bereavement Network
Child Bereavement UK – Scotland Development Projects
Cruse – children and young people in Wales
Young Minds

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04   Financial support

What financial support am I entitled to?

A welfare manager from Veterans UK will be able to provide detailed information about financial entitlements, state and military. They can also liaise with the Army Personnel Centre about pensions.

Spouses would be eligible to resettlement courses and transfer of learning credits unused by the serving person.

The financial support that families may be entitled to may vary depending on the individual circumstances. Below are a number of support agencies and information:

Will I receive their Armed Forces pension?

The Forces Pension Society has provided some helpful leaflets about the pension benefits.

The following MOD booklets can provide more information:

  • Armed Forces Pension Scheme 1975: Family Benefits
  • Armed Forces Pension Scheme 2005: Family Benefits
  • The Armed Forces Pension Scheme 2015 Your Pension Scheme Explained

See also the Veterans UK/DBS website

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05   Wellbeing

Who can I talk to about how I’m feeling?

It is normal to go through the various stages of grief, such as shock, sadness, anger and guilt when bereaved.

The VO can offer support and signpost the family to support agencies.

The NHS website has some very useful information about this.

The local GP or hospice can also offer support and access to counselling.

There are several organisations that can support families through their bereavement and grief:

  • Army Welfare Service – they may be able to arrange counselling. Please contact the AWS Intake and Assessment team on: 01904 882053 or 882054 or email AWS-HQ-IAT@mod.uk
  • Cruse Bereavement Care has a specific contact for military families.
  • Macmillan has some useful information on coping with loss and bereavement.

For support with children’s bereavement and grief contact Winston’s Wish.

What support is there?

There are various information sites and groups that can assist:

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06   Overseas

Who will inform the next of kin if the family is posted overseas?

JCCC and BAS will have responsibility for informing the family. However, if the Service person was in a defence engagement role in a remote location, and was accompanied on their posting by their spouse/civil partner, it may be the Defence section of the nearest British Embassy or High Commission that notifies them.

Are there different arrangements if overseas?

There is no different policy for overseas locations. However, some consideration may be given to local rules and regulations regarding coroners, civilian policy and funeral directors.

If a Service person died when overseas, the local chain of command would hold a multi-agency meeting to support the family and assist their return to the UK.

How quickly would the family be expected to move back to the UK?

The family would be supported in determining when they return to the UK. For some families, they will wish to return at the earliest opportunity. For others, they may wish to remain overseas for slightly longer if they felt supported by their local community and to provide educational stability for their children.  However, the entitlement to remain overseas may be affected by local overseas immigration regulations and it would be best for families to speak to their local chain of command.

What if the Service person dies when overseas on leave?

If the Service person dies whilst on Service or assigned overseas, the MOD has a responsibility to repatriate the body back to the UK.

If the Service person dies on leave whilst outside the country where they are stationed, the MOD will not fund the repatriation. Service personnel and families should ensure that they have appropriate travel insurance at all times.

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07   F&C families

What do I do if I am a F&C family?

Please contact the AFF F&C support team for more help at fcsupport@aff.org.uk

The Armed Forces immigration rules allow for a bereaved partner and children to be eligible for indefinite leave if the following applies:

  • The soldier was either serving F&C, British or had limited leave or indefinite leave on discharge
  • At the time of the soldier’s death the relationship was subsisting, eg, long-lasting
  • If the veteran had discharged more than 2 years ago, the partner/child must have had a visa as a partner/child prior to the discharge
  • The applicant meets the suitability requirements (this usually means they have no criminal convictions)

Please note

  • There is no requirement for the partner and/or child to have a valid visa in order to apply.
  • If the partner/child is outside the UK on an overseas assignment, indefinite leave to enter can be applied for.
  • If the partner/child is in the UK, indefinite leave to remain can be applied for. Limited leave will be granted in cases where the suitability requirements are not met.
  • If the child is over 18, they would need to have had a visa under Armed Forces rules.
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