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New Program Began May 2014: Warrior Support Team
After 7 years of support to Purple Heart Heroes and Families, we've moved forward with a new program, Warrior Support Team, to focus on the needs of all returning warriors including wounded, ill, injured, and those living with PTS/COS (Post Traumatic Stress/Combat Operational Stress), as well as the needs of their family members and caregivers. To learn more and see our current work, visit

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The Notification Process

Thank You from Marines and Volunteers

“What your organization brings to the barracks is…important. You are there every week. We know and love you guys, and you bring that touch of home to us all. You're all our parents away from home.”

—Wounded Hero

"We hear so much appreciation from our Wounded Heroes, not only in their words, but in their eyes, their smiles, and hugs. We never know who we'll touch. We can't heal them, but we can be there to support and listen to them."

—Joyce, West Coast Manager

"Thanks for everything you guys do for us, we appreciate everything."

—Wounded Hero

Currently, meals are delivered weekly to Balboa and twice a month to Bethesda. As funding increases, we hope to add more hospitals to the program. If you would like to make a donation to help support the cost of our monthly dinners, use the "Donations" link to the left. Thanks to all our Purple Heart Hero Support™ benefactors. Our Wounded Heroes appreciate your dedication!

Remember to keep in mind that each branch of the Armed Forces is responsible for notifying the next of kin if their serviceperson is wounded, and has its own specific procedures for ensuring expeditious and personal notification. However, the following processes are similar throughout all branches.

In the event of Minor Injuries:

Casualty notification generally comes directly from the hospital or from the servicemember by telephone and only to the Primary Next of Kin (PNOK).

In the event of Serious Injury or Illness:

In injury cases deemed to be Very Seriously Injured (VSI) or Seriously Ill or Injured (SI), only the PNOK is notified by telephone. When this event occurs, all Secondary Next of Kin (SNOK) should rely on the PNOK for all information relating to their Servicemember as they will be continually updated as information becomes available. Remember, in the first hours after the incident, information may be limited. So try to remain calm so as information becomes more available

In the event where a servicemember is Missing or Killed in Combat:

The Service will notify all Primary Next of Kin (PNOK), Secondary Next of Kin (SNOK), any other person listed on the DD Form 93 (Record of Emergency Data) in person and as soon as possible, generally within 24-48 hours. In this case, the Marine Corps’ notification hours are between 5:00 AM and 12:00 AM. You will not be notified between the hours of 12:00 AM and 5:00 AM.

”Believed to Be” Notifications:

If there is no solid evidence that a particular servicemember was involved in the incident, but military officials have overwhelming reason to believe the servicemember was involved, families will be given a "believed to be" notification, and will be kept updated just as they would with a standard notification. Only the PNOK will be notified by telephone is their servicemember is “believed to be injured.” If it is "believed to be killed" or "believed to be missing", PNOK and SNOK will both be notified in person.

How the Marine Corps Determine Who to Contact

Before your Marine is deployed, all points of contact should be solidified. Regardless of circumstances, the Primary Next of Kin (PNOK) is always contacted first. For married Marines, this is usually a spouse. For unmarried servicemen, the PNOK is usually a parent. If you are unsure of your PNOK and SNOK statuses, the Corps defined terms and explanations should help alleviate any confusion.

Primary Next of Kin (PNOK): The person most closely related to the casualty is considered the Primary NOK for purposes of notification and assistance. The unremarried surviving spouse is the Primary NOK. The term surviving spouse does not include one who obtained a divorce from the decedent (at any time). Other NOK and interested parties are recognized in the following order:

  • Natural and adopted children in order of seniority. The rights of minor children shall be exercised by the surviving parent or legal guardian.

  • Parents in order of seniority, unless legal sole custody was granted to a person by reason of a court decree or statutory provision. The Armed Forces has defined parents as a natural or adoptive parent or a person who has stood in loco parentis for a period of not less than 1 year any time prior to the Marine’s entry into active service. Only one person standing in loco parentis will be recognized; preference will be given to the one exercising parental relationship nearest to the Marine’s entry into active service date.

  • Blood or adoptive relative granted legal custody of the Marine by a court decree or statutory provision.

  • Siblings of legal age in order of seniority.

  • Grandparents in order of seniority.

  • Other relatives of legal age in order of relationship to the individual according to civil laws. Seniority controls when persons are of equal degree of relationship.

  • Person standing in loco parentis to the decedent. Seniority controls when person are of equal degree of relationship. The Armed Forces defines loco parentis as the phrase identifying a foster parent, a county custodial agency, or a boarding school which is taking care of a minor including protecting the minor’s rights.

  • The remarried surviving spouse. The term remarried surviving spouse does not include one who obtained a divorce from the decedent (at any time) or who remarried before a finding of death pursuant to 37 U.S.C.

Secondary Next of Kin (SNOK): Used solely for the purpose of notification and is always notified after the PNOK is notified.

  • If the Marine is survived by a spouse, all minor children (not living with the spouse), and both parents will be considered SNOK.

  • If the Marine is not survived by a spouse but is survived by children and the senior child is the PNOK, all the other children and both parents will be considered SNOK.

  • If the Marine is not survived by a spouse or children, the parent not determined to be the PNOK will be considered the SNOK.

  • If the Marine is not survived by a spouse, children, or parent(s), SNOK designations will not apply

  • NOTE: Parents will be notified either as a PNOK or SNOK. Both parents will be notified regardless of marital status or location. Whether PNOK or SNOK, both parents should be provided the same respect.

  • ALSO NOTE: Due to the Privacy Act of 1974, individuals aside from the PNOK and SNOK with an interest in the Marine are not allowed access to the complete details of the casualty or to the Marine’s personal effects. Individuals included are boyfriends, girlfriends, fiancés, close personal friends, and other family members.

Typical Causes for Delays in Notification of Family Members

Remember, the Corps always makes notification the matter of highest priority. Notification pertaining to a servicemember being Missing or Killed in Combat always takes precedence over all other responsibilities the Notifier has. If the Notifier is delayed, is it generally not of their own accord.

  • Incorrect contact information provided on the Emergency Data Card is the number one reason for delays in notifying the PNOK that the servicemember has been wounded/injured. It is IMPERATIVE the servicemember keeps this information updated! Precious time is wasted when military officials have to track down correct notification numbers for family members.

  • PNOK leaving the area without notifying the unit Rear Detachment Commander or Family Readiness Point of Contact is another common delay for notification. Always let someone in the unit know that you are leaving the area, and always provide them with a working phone number where you can be reached should they need to contact you. Even if you are going on vacation or just staying with family, the Service needs to have working contact information.

What Happens After the Notification Call?

After your notification call, you should receive an assistance call from your assigned Casualty Assistance Calls Officer, a member of the Casualty Assistance Calls Program, as the situation warrants. The CACO is a resource provided to Marines and their families to:

  • ensure all survivors are properly notified of a casualty incident

  • assure assistance in applying for all benefits and entitlements

  • provide information and assist with the resolution of applicable benefits and entitlements

  • serve the liason between the NOK and the various agencies within and external to the Marine Corps

  • act as the sole conduit between all government agencies and the Marine and his or her family

After the assistance call, you will be kept informed of your Marine's progression by the CACO. If you have any questions about your Marine, your CACO should be contacted. Also, remember, that our volunteers here at Purple Heart Hero Support™ are always willing to help, as many of them have been through similar situations.

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