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New Dover Policy Begins April 6th

Posted By McQ • [April 02, 2009]

I'm still not at all happy about this and the rationale continues to elude me, but as we all know, what "is", is.

The new policy is slated to be implemented April 6, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters today. If immediate family members consent to media coverage, Whitman said, reporters would be provided the basic information on the servicemember and the expected time of arrival of the flight bearing the remains. 

“The core of the policy,” Whitman said, “is built around the desires of the family members, and it will be the families that decide whether or not media have access to any of these dignified transfers.” 

Dover’s Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs is the Defense Department’s largest joint-service mortuary facility, and the only one in the continental United States. Dover also is the U.S. military’s largest air terminal. Media photography or filming of dignified transfers at Dover was prohibited under the previous policy. 

In a March 25 memorandum that outlines procedures for the new policy, Gates wrote he’d determined on Feb. 27 “that the [Defense Department] policy governing media access to the dignified transfer of fallen servicemembers at Dover Air Force Base would be modified to allow media access, when approved by the immediate families of the individual fallen.” 

Of course, with this policy, the grieving family will now have to endure an media onslaught of requests to film the arrival of their dead son, daughter, husband or wife. And to what purpose? 


While I was gratified by the media turn out at the posthumous presentation of Cpl Jonathan Ayers Silver Star to his family, what would have been accomplished had that family been contacted by the media before ever receiving the body of their fallen son?

 And it isn't just that now we have another intrusion on the grief of the family, but the fear that these pictures taken of our fallen will be used for less than honorable purposes. Would the families want those pictures to be used as a recruiting or fund raising tool by the IVAW or Code Pink? 

While the policy is now official, I encourage all military deploying to both Iraq and Afghanistan to ensure, if the worst should happen, that your family knows your wishes are. Do it in a simple note, signed, dated and witnessed and left with someone you trust. It is your wish which should be honored. 

Not to get too morbid, but the SecDef can make any policy he wants, but you should have the final say. And that's one way of doing it.

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