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Mighty Ninety holds Next-of-Kin notification training

  • Published
  • By Airman Andrew Poynter
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

Ray Guest, a civilian in the 90th Missile Wing Inspector General’s Wing Plans and Programs office, organized and held a Next-of-Kin Notification training seminar on F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming. Jan. 24, 2024.

The training prepared officers and leaders across the 90th Missile Wing for the responsibility of notifying next-of-kin that a loved one has passed.

Col. John Hundley, 90th Missile Wing deputy wing commander, provided the opening remarks. He expressed the importance of the training, and encouraged everyone present to understand the weight of responsibility that came with the task.

The opening remarks were followed by a video of a simulated next-of-kin notification exercise. The video illustrated the proper procedure for notifying next-of kin, and warned against common mistakes that could be made.

Tanya Robison, a civilian with the Force Support Squadron, Maj. Emily Gayle from the 320th Missile Squadron, Chaplain Lt. Col. Kevin Chelf  and Chaplain Maj. Jessica Prophitt, each spoke on the various aspects that come into play when a service member passes away. In addition to notifying next-of-kin, this includes working with casualty affairs and chapel services, as well as specific considerations based on the unit and mission. Each speaker conveyed that circumstances can often change the appropriate response, but that the death of a service member must always be addressed with diligence and respect for both the living and deceased.

Maj. Stuart Yoder, from the 90 MW IG, placed the previous statements and advice into context by sharing a personal story of a time he was required to notify next-of-kin of their loved one’s passing. Rather than a run-of-the-mill scenario, the story was filled with unexpected complications. Yoder’s story provided advice on how to prepare for circumstances that could easily be overlooked, but also illustrated the importance of perseverance in such a situation.

90th Missile Wing Inspector General Ronald Jenkins gave the closing remarks. His segment included a reference to the exercise that had been conducted the previous day.

“During the exercise, I asked them to go down the hallway and walk back,” said Jenkins. “I wanted to see if they would crack a smile. Humor is a very natural way of relieving stress.”

He reiterated the importance of composure, stating that the hallway represented the walk from a driveway to the front door. He expressed that at any point during that walk, the notifying officer could be seen and that it was their responsibility to carry themselves respectfully from the moment they exited the car. The training was bookended with the themes of responsibility and respect, drawing the seminar to a close.