Monday, January 12, 2009

Policies and Procedures for the Handling of Personal Effects

Listen to Podcast (use Quicktime player).

While I was assigned to the Army G4, I was very frustrated with the numerous congressionals and complaints we received in regard to a Soldier's personal effects. Most of the complaints were in reference to Soldiers that were medically evacuated. I was disgusted by the care of these personal effects. When I started researching what the policies and procedures actually were, I found that there were no standard procedures for our wounded. There must have been about seven or eight regulations and pamphlets that referred to the handling of personal effects (PE) but most only referenced how to handle PE for our fallen.

So, I set about drafting an Army message that would establish the procedures for the handling of PE. This required extensive staff work with the Army G1, Mortuary Affairs, the Joint Personal Effects Depot, and others. The result was an All Army Activity (ALARACT) message 139/2006 210236Z Jul 06 - "Policies and Procedures for the handling of personal effects and government property".

Today, I received the latest ALARACT message in regard to the handling of PE - ALARACT 06/2009 090012Z Jan 09 "Policies and Procedures for the Handling of PE for Medically Evacuated Soldiers from a Combatant Theater". The major change from this message and the one I helped author earlier is that the Summary Court Martial Officers (SCMOs) appointed to handle PE of medically evacuated Soldiers do not have to be officers - NCOs in the rank of E-6 or above can act as SCMOs. An officer must still be assigned as SCMO for any Soldiers killed in action.

There is a link on this message to a Quartermaster site that has all things concerning Mortuary Affairs. I found a couple of things quite interesting about this site.

1. I found a short video that shows how to handle PE for a Soldier killed in action. The same procedures are relevant for Soldiers medically evacuated.

2. The site contains numerous references including the appropriate regulations and the latest SCMO Checklist..

3. It contains a staff guide that units may find helpful.

4. An "Army Casualty Notification and Assistance Guide" (use your AKO username and password when queried).

What I couldn't find on the site that I think are essential (maybe I just missed them) are links to all of the ALARACT messages and SCMO checklists. So I put those documents on one of the AKO sites I operate at work.

1 comment:

Leslie said...

It has been pointed out to me that I should not call the inventory officials SCMOs when discussing medically evacuated PE. Here is what I should have said:

The major change from this message and the one I helped author earlier is that NCOs in the rank of E-6 or above can be appointed as Inventory Officials to handle PE of medically evacuated Soldiers. IO do not have to be officers. A commissioned officer, including commissioned warrant officers, must, by law, be assigned as a SCMO for any Soldier killed in action.