MOACC’s Survivor Assistance Team comes through for widows


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When a husband or wife dies, in addition to dealing with the emotional and traumatic experience, the surviving spouse also must make critical decisions that will affect his or her life and benefits.

Dealing with the grief makes it much more difficult to handle all that needs to be done. It can be overwhelming.

That’s where the Survivor Assistance Team from the Military Officers of America Cape Canaveral Chapter comes in.

I know that there are other groups such as the Disabled American Veterans posts in Brevard that do similar work. In this column, I will tell you about the MOACC team.

“Preparing for the inevitable is intimidating to a lot of people,” said retired Air Force Lt. Col. Chuck Shaw, who heads the MOACC team.

The team monitors local obituaries daily and compares them to its membership roster of 1,400 members. They then offer their assistance.

The team helps couples to prepare and supports the surviving spouse through all that must be done when a wife or husband dies.

“It hits a widow at the worst time of their lives,” Shaw said. “We help them right after.”

Though the program is for MOAAC, Shaw said no veteran needing help would be turned away.

According to MOACC, among the things that must be done following a death:

Reporting the death to the veteran’s service branch, the Department of Veterans Affairs and others.

Filling out military benefit forms and assuring that the forms get to the proper agency such as Defense Finance and Accounting Service and the VA.

Coordinating with county government offices such as the Property Appraisers Office, Tax Collectors Office and the County Clerk.

In addition, there are many other things that must be done. The MOACC website moaacc.org/SurvivorAssistance.aspx offers links and more information on what couples should know.

Shaw learned from the experience of one of his daughters. Her husband was killed while serving in Iraq in 2005, and she had to navigate through all that had to be done.

That’s when Shaw decided to become involved with the MOACC Survivor Assistance program and soon became the team leader.

“I decided I couldn’t sit back and watch one more widow go through that.”