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VIDEO: Fort Gordon remembers fallen heroes at holiday ceremony

Dawn breaks over the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery on Memorial Day, May 26, 2014, in Boise, Idaho. Local dignitaries held a Memorial Day Ceremony there later that day. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Samuel Morse)

The ceremony began with poems and words of thanks.

The 14 service members were not there to hear the words of praise but family members of these fallen heroes wanted to make sure they were never forgotten at a holiday remembrance ceremony at Fort Gordon.

After honoring her late-husband Staff Sgt. Andre “Dre” Booker, Shanette Booker described how she enjoys being able to connect with fellow survivors.

“We share stories about our heroes, we share pictures,” she said. “With other families, with other Gold Star Families, we’re able to the have the conversation in present tense, even though it’s a past tense thing.”

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. During his speech, Fort Gordon’s garrison commander Col. James Clifford described the importance of the military taking care of families of fallen service members.

“There is no greater duty, for those of us that remain in uniform, than to make sure that you [the families] are taken care of, and that you know that you can come to us if you need assistance,” Clifford said. “It’s why our Survivor Outreach Services exist.”

Survivor Outreach Services (SOS) is part of the Army Casualty Continuum of Care. It’s designed to provide long-term support to surviving families of fallen service members, otherwise known as “Survivors.” SOS provided each Gold Star family with gold star candles, Survivors were escorted by service members to portraits of their loved ones and placed the candles.

SOS coordinator Haider Aljubouri said these events help connect Survivors to other resources and Fort Gordon’s open-door policy.

“To keep them connected to our services and programs, we provide them, actually with a special access badge to Fort Gordon area. It’s called the Survivor Access Badge,” he said. “It connects them with our communities, with our services, and our program managers and our program directives, even open door policy to the garrison commander himself if they need to talk to him about any issues they have.”

Aljubouri said anyone interested in SOS and its resources can find a link at the bottom of the front page of Fort Gordon’s website. The national phone number is +1 (855) 707-2769.

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© 2019 The Augusta Chronicle