Volunteer group serves families of the fallen

  • Published
  • By Christin Michaud
  • Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Public Affairs
Friends of the Fallen is a non-profit organization comprised of volunteers from the local community who provide service and assistance to families who come to Dover Air Force Base, Del., to witness the dignified transfer.

The collection of volunteers have a deep love for the country and its military personnel, explained Karen Mordus, the FOF president.

There are close to 50 volunteers whose main focus is to provide hospitality to families at every dignified transfer.

That hospitality ranges from providing coffee and cookies to children's toys and toiletry items - but most importantly it's a calm presence of a volunteer showing their support regardless of the time of day or night.

Mordus first learned about the mission while watching a news story about the Fisher House opening in 2010 at Dover AFB and said she wanted to help in some way.

"The story compelled me to write a letter asking if they needed help making beds, cooking, cleaning; it didn't matter," she said.

She learned there was a need for volunteers for the families of fallen service members and as a mother of a Soldier, an aunt of a Marine and wife to a retired Sailor, Mordus has been committed ever since.

"Hand over heart, knowing that I gave my best to a hero's family is the most rewarding part," she said of being a volunteer with FOF.

Volunteers who are available for the families' comfort include professionals, housewives, military spouses, family members of the fallen, pastors and retired or former service members.

"The dynamics are pretty amazing," said Mordus.

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Garry W. Losey, Army Mortuary Affairs chaplain liaison is equally impressed with the volunteers who take the time to serve families of the fallen.
"This group of men and women are there," said Losey. "It doesn't matter what time of day or night, they are there to care for the families.

"It is especially noticeable when we go up to the hotel. They set up tables and rooms with material to give to the families," said the chaplain. "They usually set up a couple of tables of food around the clock in 3-hour shifts and make sure there is someone always there with the family being able to help them. They do this with love, kindness, respect, honor and dignity for the families. They make the families feel special, cared for and loved."

In addition to supporting the families, the organization also coordinates fundraising efforts with a food drive twice a year to benefit the Campus for Families of the Fallen and partnering with organizations who donate items or hold benefits for the FOF.

One of their biggest endeavors was the addition of a playground behind the Fisher House for Families of the Fallen thanks to the support of community partners, said Mordus.

Friends of the Fallen volunteers meet quarterly for training and support, which includes pastoral care if needed, due to the emotional challenges of the mission.

"If you can give us two days a month and a few days a year for fundraising, please contact us," said Mordus.

For more information on becoming a Friends of the Fallen volunteer, visit www.friendsofthefallen.org for a volunteer application or e-mail info@friendsofthefallen.org.