New chapel area to host families of fallen service members

  • Published
  • By Christin Michaud
  • AFMAO Public Affairs
A new space for families of the fallen was dedicated as part of a new chapel in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Feb. 25.

The chapel annex, designed as an overflow area for families traveling to Dover to witness the dignified transfer of their loved one, accounts for a third of the 19,343 square foot facility, which cost $8.7 million.

Currently, families are taken to the Center for Families of the Fallen near the Fisher House for Families of the Fallen, but in some cases, more family members travel to Dover than what the current space can accommodate, according to Chaplain David Sparks, port mortuary senior chaplain.

A policy change allowing media to cover dignified transfers in 2009 extended an invitation and travel entitlements for families wishing to attend.

More than 8,000 family members have traveled to Dover to attend the dignified transfer of their loved ones since the policy change, according to Col. John. M. Devillier, Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations commander.

This reception area will be a place for families to gather and meet with a family support team of chaplains, mental health technicians and military officials while awaiting the dignified transfer on the flight line.

The families, who arrive at Dover less than 24 hours after receiving a knock on their door on what may arguably be the worst day of their life, won't necessarily remember the people who support the mission, said Devillier, but they will remember how they felt when they were here.

"Part of our mantra at the Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs is providing care, service and support, to the families of the fallen," said Devillier. "It is our collective responsibility as a nation to take care of these families for the ultimate sacrifice their loved one has made for our nation."

This new space is designed to be a place for families to feel like they are cared for and loved, added Sparks, making the new area invaluable.