H. R. 5198

To direct the Secretary of Defense to establish a working group to review and recommend improvements to the casualty assistance program of the Department of Defense, and for other purposes.

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117 HR 5198 IH: To direct the Secretary of Defense to establish a working group to review and recommend improvements to the casualty assistance program of the Department of Defense, and for other purposes.

U.S. House of Representatives

2021-09-10

text/xml

EN

Pursuant to Title 17 Section 105 of the United States Code, this file is not subject to copyright protection and is in the public domain.

I

117th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 5198

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

September 10, 2021

Mr. Bacon

introduced the following bill; which was referred to the

Committee on Armed Services

A BILL

To direct the Secretary of Defense to establish a working group to review and recommend improvements to the casualty assistance program of the Department of Defense, and for other purposes.

1.

Casualty assistance program: reform; establishment of working group

(a)

Casualty Assistance Reform Working Group

(1)

Establishment

Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall establish a working group to be known as the

Casualty Assistance Reform Working Group

(in this section referred to as the

Working Group

).

(2)

Duties

The Working Group shall perform the following duties:

(A)

Create standards and training for CAOs across the military departments.

(B)

Explore the possibility of establishing a unique badge designation for—

(i)

CAOs who have performed CAO duty more than five times; or

(ii)

professional CAOs.

(C)

Commission a 30-day study that—

(i)

documents the current workflow of casualty affairs support across the military departments, including administrative processes and survivor engagements; and

(ii)

performs a gap analysis and solution document that clearly identifies and prioritizes critical changes to modernize and professionalize the casualty experience for survivors.

(D)

Review the organization of the Office of Casualty, Mortuary Affairs and Military Funeral Honors to ensure it is positioned to coordinate policy and assist in all matters under its jurisdiction, across the Armed Forces, including any potential intersections with the Defense Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Accounting Agency.

(E)

Explore the establishment of—

(i)

an annual meeting, led by the Secretary of Defense, with gold star families; and

(ii)

a surviving and gold star family leadership council.

(F)

Recommend improvements to the family notification process of Arlington National Cemetery.

(G)

Explore the redesign of the Days Ahead Binder, including creating an electronic version.

(H)

Consider the expansion of the DD Form 93 to include more details regarding the last wishes of the deceased member.

(I)

Assess coordination between the Department of Defense and the Office of Survivors Assistance of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

(3)

Membership

The membership of the Working Group shall be comprised of the following:

(A)

The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, who shall serve as Chair of the Working Group.

(B)

One individual from each Armed Force, appointed by the Secretary of the military department concerned, who is—

(i)

a civilian employee in the Senior Executive Service; or

(ii)

an officer in a grade higher than O–6.

(C)

One individual from the Joint Staff, appointed by the Secretary of Defense, who is—

(i)

a civilian employee in the Senior Executive Service; or

(ii)

an officer in a grade higher than O–6.

(D)

The Director of the Defense Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Accounting Agency.

(E)

The Director of the Defense Health Agency (or the designee of such Director).

(F)

The Chief of Chaplains of each Armed Force.

(G)

Such other members of the Armed Forces or civilian employees of the Department of Defense whom the Secretary of Defense determines to appoint.

(4)

Report

Not later than September 30, 2022, the Working Group shall submit to the Secretary of Defense a report containing the determinations and recommendations of the Working Group.

(5)

Termination

The Working Group shall terminate upon submission of the report under paragraph (4).

(b)

Report required

Not later than November 1, 2022, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Representatives a report setting forth the results of a review and assessment of the casualty assistance officer program, including the report of the Working Group.

(c)

Establishment of certain definitions

Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretaries of the military departments, shall prescribe regulations that establish standard definitions, for use across the military departments, of the terms

gold star family

and

gold star survivor

.

(d)

CAO defined

In this section, the term

CAO

means a casualty assistance officer of the Armed Forces.