The Basics of Careteam Development
One must first begin with the skeleton of what the Army has outlined Careteams to be. Here, you will find the handbooks and crucial advice from the best.
What is a Careteam? Those who have grown up in a church or close community may liken it to the close group of people that follow up and serve a hurting family. These communities often surround a grieving family with food, cards, and anything that family may need. Different cultures respond to crisis in different ways. In the military, a culture where crisis is saturated with procedures and standards, the volunteer group of often spouses lead the way in serving the emotional needs of the now Gold Star Family.
There are several moving parts that are involved when a notification happen. Very briefly, you have the following:
Led out by the Rear Detachment Commander who is playing out the standard operating procedures (SOP) left behind by the Commander. Because no two situations are alike, he is often left to fill in the gaps of the SOP as best as he can, based on the needs of the family. All decisions, including everything in between deploying the Go-team to terminating the Careteam fall on the Rear D Commander.
A small group of no more than 3 volunteers, usually senior spouses and the Careteam Coordinator. This team is sent by the Rear D Commander to follow up after the initial notification based on the new widow's willingness. The Go-team offers emotional support to the spouse until additional support can arrive and explains the availability and benefit to having a Careteam serve her.
A group of women who serve a spouse temporarily until family or other support are able to arrive and help the grieving family. Members can be as close as they feel comfortable serving in the home cleaning, cooking, answering phones,etc or serve from a distance by cooking meals and/or helping with the care of Careteam member's children.
When building a Careteam, Army Community Services (ACS) does a fine job training volunteers in their basic training course. During this training, volunteers will be taught the five stages of grief, the details of the notification procedure for seriously injured soldiers as well as those killed in action. There are other topics covered such as how Rear Detachment will read and interpret a DD93 form (a form filled out by the soldier prior to deployment describing whom should be notified and receive benefits). Once you have received the basics of what it looks like to work within a Careteam, each unit, battalion, or brigade must still go through the daunting task of making a team and a set of standard operating procedures (SOP) that works best for them.
The Army provides an outstanding Careteam handbook that has a few of my favorite things inside. It covers most of which is taught in the ACS training, but it has plenty of useful forms, notepages, and my favorite is a page that explains what a Careteam is and is not. This has been especially helpful to print copies of and put in a folder especially for a new widow. It sets the expectations for all involved and is a great tool for her to look back on later. Of course a unit can use most of this information as a cookie cutter approach, however, playing out scenarios will often reveal it is not enough.
Trauma in the unit is a much more extensive handbook that gets into some of the bigger issues a team may face. Here it covers mass casualty situations, dealing with the media, and how to work with the rest of the FRG and Rear Detachment.