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AFMES, DPAA shares missions with service members, families

AFMES, DPAA shares missions with service members, families

Story by SSgt Nicole Leidholm on 01/30/2019

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. The Armed Forces Medical Examiner System and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency provided local outreach to communities in Alabama January 24-26, 2019.

“These outreach opportunities are important for us to educate the community and service members about the DPAA and AFMES missions,” said Todd Livick, DPAA Outreach and Communications director. “We are also able to provide information to those who may be able to help us locate missing Department of Defense personnel.”

Both agencies provided information on their respective missions and held question and answer session with the 42nd Medical Group and 42nd Force Support Squadron, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. and the U.S. Army Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape school, Fort Rucker, Ala.

“This helped make us more aware of the agency and learning how it happens,” said U.S. Army MAJ Glenn Anderson, U.S. Army S.E.R.E school detachment commander. “It’s showing that we will always come and get you; we will always come and find you.”

Anderson added that overall, it was a great development for the cadre in the school, which will be passed along to students with new updates to the curriculum to add information about the DPAA and AFMES.

“We will fully transition to the Defense Health Agency in October,” said Col. Jeanette Frantal, 42nd MDG commander. “As we will be new members of DHA, it was fascinating to see the mission of not just our counterpart, but how both AFMES and the DPAA strive for accountability for all our military personnel.”

The DPAA and AFMES concluded their outreach with a family member update.

The DPAA conducts periodic and annual government briefings for families of service members who are missing in action. These events are designed to keep family members informed of those still missing and to discuss in detail the latest information available about their specific case.

More than 225 families attending the Birmingham FMU, with nearly 50 percent being first time attendees.

This was the second FMU for Jason Murphree, who is hoping to bring his great uncle, U.S. Army Private 1st Class Calvin Murphree, A Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, home after going missing in action during the fighting withdrawal from Kunu-ri, North Korea.

“These are very emotional events, being at these, seeing all the family members telling similar stories to what I grew up with,” said Jason. “I never met my uncle but I feel like I know him. I’ve heard all these stories and see his purple heart on the wall.”

Jason added that for families that have any interest in finding a loved one or supporting a family trying to find a loved one, they need to come.

“It’s such a benefit coming to one of these,” said Jason. “Hearing the open forum and hearing all these similar things and talking to families one-on-one, they’re all here for the same reason; to bring their loved one home.”

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