The Center for Families of the Fallen at Dover Air Force Base was opened on Wednesday at the Delaware military base. The facility will provide assistance to the families of loved ones whose remains are brought home from the war. Previously grief counselors and other support personnel had been working out of a “multipurpose spiritual operations center” located on the other side of the base from the mortuary.
The center has been relocated to a former base convenience store which was renovated at a cost of $1.6 million. The new 6,000 square-foot center is twice as large as the previous center space which was being shared by Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center (AFMAO) chaplains and support staff and chaplains serving the base’s troops.
The new location of the center, which is closer to the mortuary, will benefit not only the families of the fallen troops whose remains are transferred at the base, but the mortuary workers who experience a “high level of stress” according to Maj. Shannon Mann, the spokeswoman for the AFMAO.
According to the AP, the April 2009 lift of an 18-year ban on news coverage has increased the number of families visiting the base to witness the “dignified transfer” of their loved ones. Approximately 56% of the families have consented to external media coverage of the transfer, and an additional 25% consenting to coverage by the Air Force. Many families who have consented to the coverage also opt to travel to Dover to witness the transfer.