2017-09-08 / Front Page

Fort Gordon SOS is fully operational

BY LAURA LEVERING
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office


Fort Gordon Survivor Outreach Services team Jolane Williams, SOS financial counselor, and Kara Kennedy, SOS program coordinator, are in the process of reaching out to survivors after the program was temporarily without staff due to a hiring freeze. 
PHOTO BY LAURA LEVERING / FORT GORDON PUBLIC OFFICE Fort Gordon Survivor Outreach Services team Jolane Williams, SOS financial counselor, and Kara Kennedy, SOS program coordinator, are in the process of reaching out to survivors after the program was temporarily without staff due to a hiring freeze. PHOTO BY LAURA LEVERING / FORT GORDON PUBLIC OFFICE Fort Gordon Survivor Outreach Services is back to being fully manned and is ready to assist survivors.

Kara Kennedy, SOS program coordinator, and Jolane Williams, SOS financial counselor, have partnered together as the SOS team.

The program had been operating with minimal resources and without a full-time coordinator since December due to the hiring freeze. In its absence, Army Community Service provided coverage and counseling as necessary.

Previously, Kennedy served the Fort Gordon community as an education services specialist with the Soldier and Family Assistance Center, and Williams as an Army Emergency Relief officer.

Both attended Casualty Assistance Officer training and Casualty Notification Officer training to prepare themselves for their new roles. And while they’re still in the process of getting established, Kennedy said the program is well on its way to being fully operational again.

Williams said they want to assure the community that she and Kennedy don’t have plans to overhaul the program but would like to hear ideas from survivors on how it can improve.

“We’re not reinventing the program,” Williams said. “We are going to reactivate it.”

One of the biggest obstacles they’ve encountered is gaining access to a roster of survivors so they can take the next step.

“We are now getting access to some of the systems, so we’re trying to make sure that all of our clients are good and that we have the most up-to-date information on them so that they know about the resources we offer,” Kennedy said.

Survivor Outreach Services provides assistance and support to families and friends of fallen Soldiers for as long as they wish to be connected to the Army. Support comes in a variety of ways including education classes, informational sessions, and recreational events with other survivors.

The SOS team is currently seeking ways to bet ter accommodate survivors’ needs by conducting a Needs Assessment, which can be obtained by contacting Kennedy or Williams and will be sent out in a newsletter.

“We’re trying to get an idea of who our survivors are and what kinds of services they want so that we’re not just making up what we think they want,” Kennedy said. “We want to know how we can best provide services to them.”

Williams encourages anyone with a fallen Soldier to become part of the SOS. From connecting with a fellow survivor to receiving the latest information on survivors’ benefits, there are many reasons to get involved with SOS. And it doesn’t have to be a on a consistent basis. Survivors can use services at any point.

“Survivor Outreach Services is there for as long as survivors want to remain connected to the military community,” Williams said. “They remain survivors for the rest of their lives, and we recognize it as such.”

Survivor Outreach Services is currently located in room 172, Darling Hall, and will be relocating to the new Command Support Center, building 35200. The new location will allow Kennedy and Williams to better serve the community in a more centralized location.

For the latest information, survivors can call SOS at (706) 791-7014 or follow the Survivor Outreach Services Fort Gordon Facebook page.

“We have hit the ground running, and clients should be hearing from us soon,” Kennedy said.

Looking ahead

For the first time in Georgia’s history, Resolution 723 passed the Georgia House of Representatives, officially recognizing Nov. 9 as Gold Star Fathers Day.

To mark the celebration, there will be a Gold Star Fathers Recognition Event honoring all Gold Star fathers at 10:30 a.m., Nov. 9, at the Georgia State Capitol. To attend, Gold Star fathers should register at www.georgiagoldstarfathers.com.

Registration is also open for Snowball Express. Snowball Express serves children and widows of fallen military heroes who died while on active duty since 9/11. Snowball Express brings children from all over the world together for four days of fun-filled experiences such as sporting events, amusement parks and more. To learn more and to register, go to www.snowballexpress.org.

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