Army Overhauls Grief Training For Families

For Natalie Craver and her children, the hardest day wasn't when they buried Second Lieutenant Johnny Craver. It was the day they got the news, CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella reports.

"One of the first things that hit me when they told me that he wasn't coming home, I realized that I wasn't just grieving for him. I was grieving for my life," Natalie says.

In an instant, Natalie lost her true love, the father of her children, and the military lifestyle she'd lived for twelve years.

"My son, Caylen, that night came to me and said, 'Momma, I'm going to make sure you never lose anything else again.' He's not really dealing with it," Natalie says.

Caylen is eight years old. He and his two sisters join a growing list of more than 1, 200 children who've lost a parent in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Once the memorials are over and the paperwork signed, many of today's military families say they feel forgotten, left to deal with their grief and their children's on their own.

A recent government audit of the military's casualty assistance program found inconsistent training and a lack of standards for casualty officers across all branches of the military.

That's no surprise to Army wife and volunteer Debbie Busch.

"We looked at what their training was, and it was a three-hour course and a video. To do the hardest duty they're ever going to have to do," says Debbie at the Gold Start Grief Center.

She started pushing the Army for more training more than a year ago, and convinced the commander at Fort Hood to give her a building for a grief counseling center

"We want it to be a warm place for the children," Debbie says.

Now, the entire Army is overhauling its training, teaching casualty officers how to show more compassion and play bigger roles in the grief and bereavement process. Even the Department of Defense has a new 24-hour hotline and Web site for families.

Tomorrow would have been Natalie Craver's wedding anniversary.

"I wonder if he's someplace with people he loves and I wonder if he can see me and if he's proud of me," Natalie says, crying.

She knows she'll need her military family to help lift her back on her feet.
  • Melissa McNamara

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