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Casualty Assistance Officer (CAO)
If a soldier or airman becomes a

casualty, a Casualty Assistance Officer (CAO) is

usually assigned to assist family members. When a member of the National Guard dies on active duty, active duty for

training, inactive duty for training, or while performing funeral honors duty,

the Armed Forces will provide a death gratuity and care and disposition of


Casualty assistance is one of the

most demanding and sensitive additional duties a soldier or airman will ever

have during his/her military career. Duty as a CAO takes precedence over all

other obligations and responsibilities. The mission is to provide assistance to

the primary next-of-kin (PNOK) and/or the person authorized direct disposition

(PADD) during the period following a soldier or airman being declared missing or

deceased. The assistance provided demonstrates the concern of the United States

Armed Forces for the welfare of its military members and their families. The

manner in which this mission is performed has a lasting effect on how the family

and their community perceive the military. The goal should be to impart the most

positive impression possible under the circumstances. In order to accomplish

this, one must be able to blend professionalism with empathy. Nothing can

substitute for good judgment, common sense and sensitivity in performing a

casualty assistance mission. The quality of service must reflect full attention

to duty and to the wishes of the next of kin (NOK).

Death Gratuity
The law fixes $6,000 as the lump-sum

payment in the event of death while a member of the Armed Forces is on active

duty for training or inactive duty training. The gratuity is also payable if a member

or former member dies of a service-connected cause within 120 days after his or

her discharge or release from active duty for training. In the case of inactive duty training,

the gratuity is payable if death occurs within 120 days and is the result of

injury received during that training. In addition, the family of a member who dies on active duty, will be

allowed 180 days rent free occupancy in Government quarters, or 180 days BAH for

area of residence, plus one year TRICARE-Standard eligibility.

When a member dies while on active duty

(including members who are retired and remain in a military hospital and who

continue to be hospitalized as patients therein to date of death or who dies on

active duty for training, or while performing inactive duty training), the

military will provide for care a disposition of remains. When military authorities arrange for

disposition of remains, services of preparation at the place of death, removal,

embalming preparation and preservation, casket, and transportation to a common

carrier are normally obtained under contract; however, when no contract is

available, military authorities negotiate with local funeral directors to obtain

these services. The military

authorities also will provide the following as required:

  • Cremation – if cremation is requested in

    writing by the person authorized to direct disposition (PAAD) of the


  • A suitable urn for the cremated


  • A U.S. flag to drape the


  • Transportation of remains, accompanied by

    an escort, from the place of death to the place designated by the


  • Military honors, if requested, will be

    provided at the place of interment.

  • The core elements of the funeral honors

    ceremony, which will be conducted are:

  • Flag folding
  • Flag presentation
  • Playing of Taps

National Cemetery

A Guide to the National Cemetery

System can be found at Another source of

information explaining the services available for a military funeral is

Line of Duty (LOD)  
A Line of Duty (LOD) investigation

will generally be conducted whenever a soldier acquires a disease, incurs a

significant injury, or is injured under unusual circumstances. There is a presumption, however, that

all diseases or injuries have occurred “in the line of duty – not due to own


An LOD investigation helps determine

whether or not a soldier is entitled to pay and allowances, accrual of service

and leave [time], and, in some cases, disability retirement. A Guard member will receive these

benefits only if the final determination is “in line of duty – not due to own


The investigating officer begins the

investigation by first getting a copy of the Statement of Medical Examination

and Duty Status from the appointing authority. Documentary evidence (witness

statements, medical records, police reports, etc.) concerning the circumstances

surrounding the injury is collected. Witnesses and the individual injured are interviewed and sworn statements

are written.

Once all evidence is gathered, the LOD is

reviewed and a determination is made:

  • “In the line of duty- not due to own


  • “Not in the line of duty- not due to

    own misconduct”; or,

  • “Not in the line of duty- due to own


The investigation and recommendation

are then sent to the appointing authority that directed the investigation, State

Judicial Authority for legal review, and the final approving authority for

approval of the LOD.

Line of duty investigations are a

required part of military. They are

not meant to inhibit soldiers from participating in regular day- to- day events

(basketball, football, baseball, hiking). However, soldiers must think of the

repercussions that may happen if they engage in very dangerous activities.

If you find you are the subject of a

Line of Duty investigation or if a “not in line of duty – due to own misconduct”

determination is made against you, contact your servicing legal assistance

office immediately for help.

Incapacitation Pay
A member of the National Guard may be

entitled to incapacitation pay if physically disabled as a result of an injury,

illness or disease incurred in the line of duty, while traveling directly to or

from such training or while remaining overnight, immediately before the

commencement of inactive duty training or funeral honors duty, or while

remaining overnight between successive periods of Inactive Duty


A member of the National Guard who is

physically unable to perform his or her military duties is entitled to full pay

and allowances equal to a member of thee active service of like grade and years

of service. The total pay and

allowances will be reduced by the amount of income the member earns from

non-military employment or self-employment during the disability


A member of the National Guard who

is physically able to perform military duties, but who sustains an injury,

illness, or disease while in the line of duty, that prevents the member from

performing his or her civilian job will receive his or her demonstrated loss

of income. This loss of income

will not exceed the equivalent rate of full pay and allowances for his or her rank

and length of service.

If you have questions about Incapacitation

Pay, see your unit administrator or talk to your State Family Program

Coordinator who will direct you to the individual who handles Incapacitation Pay

issues in your state.