Another spouse notified of husband’s death on Facebook

| April 15, 2012 | 36 Comments

The first time it was reported, I thought maybe it was just an anomaly. I mean, how many people could think it’d be a good idea to notify a spouse of their loved one’s death on Facebook? But, apparently, the answer is “more than one person“;

Ariell Taylor-Brown learned her husband, the father of her two daughters, was killed in Afghanistan last week when another soldier from his unit posted on her Facebook page that there was an emergency.

“I was told via Facebook,” said Taylor-Brown. “It was a girl in his platoon. She wrote to me and told me to call her immediately,” Taylor-Brown said.

I know it’s tempting to be the purveyor of breaking news, to be the first one to report something, that’s kind of the excitement of blogging, but the military has a system in place that they’ve been using for decades, and it’s in place for a reason, and sure, it’s not perfect, but at least they provide immediate assistance, not a stupid text message on Facebook, for Pete’s sake.

To quote my long-time friend, Claire, at YouServed;

I am a boundary loving person. One boundary I draw in my own life is an understanding of the difference between blame and responsibility. We can point the finger of blame at social media and living in a world where anything can be said at nearly the speed of light, but the responsibility of what is actually put out there lays on the shoulders of the human being behind the keyboard. Regardless of intent. Intent does not erase responsibility.

Just put yourself in the recipient’s shoes for a minute before you send a text message to someone, especially if you have life-changing news. I don’t believe that it needed to be said.

Thanks to Tman for the link.

Category: Military issues

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  1. Hondo says:

    Jesus.

    What was the individual who told her thinking? If they were thinking at all, they obviously have no good judgement whatsoever.

    “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.”

    One or two more of these, and IMO it’s remotely possible we might see cell phones and Internet access taken away from deployed troops.

  2. Enigma 4 You says:

    WTF over?

    The son of a very close friend of mine just returned from Afghanistan. He was COP he was not allowed to have a cell phone. When there was a casualty they went on lockdown, no internet, no phone calls no news.

    The girl who did this needs to be charged

  3. JP76er says:

    Couldn’t agree with you guys more. Think twice & have compassion for the loved ones.

  4. CI says:

    There’s several reasons why I hate Facebook and this ranks at the top of the list. In our society we see a strange phenomenon; the compelling desire to be the person to proliferate bad news. I have no explanation for it, but Facebook exacerbates it.

    And the point above is solid. The reaction to repeated occurrences of this will be a lock-down on anything but regulated phone trailers in theater.

  5. Pete says:

    When I was downrange, we went into “River City” whenever somebody went down. No Internet, no phones, nothing. Sometimes it might last two weeks, however long it took until the family could be officially notified. Have they stopped doing this? If so, what idiot thought that was a good idea?

  6. SGT Ted says:

    That soldier knew damn well NOT TO DO THAT. They have internet blackouts for just that reason after a KIA/WIA report. They are TOLD not to do just this very thing, repeatedly.

    Prosecute the soldier who violated that order. Throw the fucking book at her. No excuse for it. None. The Soldier-girl undercut the Chain of Command SO SHE COULD GET IN ON THE FEMALE CHICKEN CLUCKING INNER CIRCLE OF GRIEF for this poor woman, when she should have been soldiering and keeping her cakehole shut.

    Despicable.

  7. AW1 Tim says:

    I am just dumbstruck that this occurred a second time. Once was bad enough.

    Leadership needs to make a serious example out of this woman as a message to everyone else about what NOT to do.

  8. DaveO says:

    Exceptionally poor judgement.

    Beyond, most likely, the punishment imposed by a company-grade Article 15 and her unit’s condemnation can this soldier receive?

    And, in the Army fashion, willing to bet HQDA spends a couple million buying a chain-teaching video on the ills of presuming to be CAO.

  9. Flagwaver says:

    I think this girl needs to get a courts-martial for that shit. In the least, she is disseminating sensitive information, at the most she is aggravating the family of a deployed soldier (can’t remember the actual law, but I know it is on the books).

    I don’t believe it is a case of “what was she thinking” but just the opposite, the female needed TO think.

    When I was flying a desk after my injury, I found out about the cell blackout that the unit went under while my folks were notified. Later, when we had our first casualty, I saw first-hand the reason for the blackout. The Colonel told his wife who then told the family… she called them and told them. It took the notification team two days to finally get to their house after that. Again, it is a Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot moment.

    They should definitely throw the book at that female. And, let ladee-dadee-everybody know that if it happens again… BLACKOUT! No more cells or net during deployments. Take it back to the postal system.

  10. Enigma 4 You says:

    The more I think about this the more pissed I get. When I read the post this morning My friend whose son just got back was sitting in the living room with me. She started crying. I see the DOD KIA list every time it comes out. The near God like faith we have in the Army that they handled those notifications with respect and compassion has been unshakable. I cannot imagine the feeling of being told on a text or facebook that my loved one had been killed.
    The BITCH that did this is a disgrace to the uniform, she is far worse than any fake, phony, or wanna be that has ever been on this site. SHE KNEW BETTER. She wears the uniform, she violated a sacred trust between the Army and every man, woman and child in this Nation. GOD DAMN her

  11. Just Plain Jason says:

    Now I know that some of the guys I was with wanted their friend from the unit to call their family before the CAO got to their house for notification. A lot of people are ready to crucify someone, but there may have been an arrangement made that the SMs wife may not have known. I also know of instances of where the FRG has made their own notifications before the army. I have my issues with the internet and speed of communication but Pandora’s box has been opened and once that has been done…

  12. valerie says:

    I remember getting a call that my grandmother had died when I was visiting my husband’s family, and how, instead of letting me call back to get the news, my a$$hole brother-in-law couldn’t wait to tell me, so he could watch my face.

    You don’t ever want somebody to feel about you the way I feel about my brother-in-law.

    Those of you who are grownups can feel free to pass my comment to any spiteful fools you encounter. It is a hostile act to inject yourself into that situation.

  13. NSOM says:

    This is exactly why bases go into internet/phone lockdown when we have casualties, because some people are impossibly stupid.

  14. valerie says:

    Jane,

    If there had been such an agreement, there’d be no issue, and we all know it.

    In my case, we had an existing procedure. My mother would always leave a message of “no emergency” if it was a routine call. That miserable bastard gave her a hard time, so that she felt compelled to define the emergency.

    This action by this soldier was a hostile intrusion, and it immediately raises the question of whether this female soldier was engaged in other hostile intrusions against that family.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Stupid f-ing female. Proof they don’t belong in combat.

  16. How about 1st sgt’s wives who are retarded? When I was away from our base in Baghdad on a 3 week job, I had e-mail contact back home. I got an e-mail from family asking if I was OK (in a panic). Attached was an e-mail from our 1st sgt’s wife who was the family contact person. the e-mail said: “If you got this e-mail, your husband is OK. But some of the folks were wounded.”
    That was it. and, she was too stupid to BCC, so I was asked “Who’s not on this e-mail?”

    Needless to say, soldier’s families were freeking out. One of our guys was killed and one was wounded bad—and all kinds of rumors got to the wives before the Army could contact them. It pissed me off really bad.

  17. Just Plain Jason says:

    Anonymous go eat a dick you fucking fake fucktarded asshat. Go pretend you opinion counts for something somewhere else…fagapatomous!

  18. Just Plain Jason says:

    We won’t know the soldier’s intent. This happens all the time, but this just made the news. More often than not it involves some senior nco or officer’s wife, this time it just happened to be a service member who did the notification and it made the news. Sometimes there is an agreement between two guys, sometimes there is not, just depends…you just gotta know the whole story. I don’t know it nobody here does. This really isn’t a breaking news story to me.

  19. Enigma 4 You says:

    And the Award for most creative use adjectives and adverbs is…JUST Plain Jason for ” go eat a dick you fucking fake fucktarded asshat. Go pretend you opinion counts for something somewhere else‚Ķfagapatomous!”

  20. Just Plain Jason says:

    Pet peeves 1) fakes, 2) people who run down my sisters, 3) people who flap cockholster’s on the internet.

    I can understand being mad, but being an asshat is stupid.

  21. Enigma 4 You says:

    Mrs. Taylor-Brown, the wife of SSGT Brown (Who was the person killed) Gave an interview, the link is above. Her emotion and shock is real. There was no agreement.

    The Soldier who made the facebook post to call was violating orders. In the Navy an order is an order, we did not get to pick the ones to obey or disregard.

    SSGT Brown had been in Afghanistan one week, any arrangement made would have been fresh in his widows mind. He had already completed multiple deployments, this was not a new situation to them.

    I’m betting that this Soldier who made the call was on their first deployment and forgot they were in the Army and not in High School.

  22. Just Plain Jason says:

    I am not speaking to this specific situation and I even said that the SM’s wife may not have known about the arrangement. That being said I don’t know, but this isn’t really news to me. There is good and bad to living in the technology age, Sevicemen and women can be connected more to their families than ever before. This means that they can be present for births and speak with their kids more often, but conversely this also means that things like this will happen and guys will also have to deal with day to day home issues on top of their issues at war. Every time we hear a story like this there probably are hundreds of stories of soldiers that get to talk to their kids every night that was unthinkable even twenty years ago. In ways you have to take the good with the bad…this is the bad.

  23. PintoNag says:

    When people do things like this, it’s for one reason only: to make themselves the center of attention. They become the one who can say, “Well I was the one who told…” It puts them at the center of the action; if they play their cards right, they can turn the attention away EVEN FROM THE TRUE CENTER, THE BEREAVED. Some will do it, even when they know they will be vilified. Any attention is better than none at all for them.

    How do I know this? Two women in my family were masters of the technique.

  24. Enigma 4 You says:

    @ 23

    I agree, I often spoke with my friends son while he was deployed. Several people kept facebook or Skype on whenever possible so that he would always have a face at home to talk to, that being said we also insulated him from the day to day stress. He was with the 10th Mountain, they were getting hammered on a daily basis. He lost friends, we knew that. He took the lives of others, we know that as well. Our Job here at home was to get him and his unit the moral support they needed, with out judgement and with unconditional love.

    He was home on R&R, while he was at home his Sargent was shot by a sniper the realities of the prior months hit him hard that day. He felt he should have been there when it happened, that somehow he had betrayed his unit by coming home for two weeks. He felt the loss of his friends that had been killed as well as those injured. The emotions that are put away to be dealt with later had to be handled then.

    His Mother and Father knew that they had to get their son to a place in his soul that he could go back to Afghanistan with a clear head. It was a few days before they would leave him alone, and then they made him be alone, to think and to find his place.

    Mrs. Taylor Brown had to endure two hours of the worst alone a person can have, Then she had to face what she knew was coming, an army car in the drive way. the soldier that told her took away her life with a few words, then left her alone.
    I cannot think of anything worse that could have happened.

    Just because a person has information does not mean they should share it.

  25. Just Plain Jason says:

    I am not arguing the fact that the SM shouldn’t have told the woman that her husband was dead. Even if a friend had asked me to do that I wouldn’t have done it, because I wouldn’t want that burden. Let alone the shitstorm it could cause. None of us really know what the SM’s motives for doing this was and to say she was doing it out of hatred or mean spiritedness isn’t necessarily right. Maybe she had the best of intentions and it went to shit…who knows…she is going to pay the price. I am sad to hear another brother died and rather than focus on his sacrifice we are focused on something trivial that happens and has happened since the speed of communication has gotten so fast.

  26. J.M. says:

    Summery Court-martial and send that POS to the brig for a month or two. This issue is briefed to death (then revived and briefed again) during pre-deployment training. No excuse at all for breaking OPSEC on a issue like this.

  27. Just Plain Jason says:

    So what do we do when Top’s wife decides to do something like this J.M.? It’s easy to make a blanket judgement statement but there are a lot of grey areas that people don’t think of.

  28. Enigma 4 You says:

    That one is easy, if the Tops wife did it then he leaked it, hold him accountable

  29. Just Plain Jason says:

    Top says he didn’t tell his wife…she just happens to be in charge of the frg. Nothing is as easy as it seems, come on Enigma…your name says you should think harder than that.

    I am just saying communication travels fast, we have to rely that soldiers are going to do what is right which in 99.99999% of the time they do it just happens that a few times they don’t. It isn’t enough to shut down communications.

  30. J.M. says:

    IMO, there is nothing that could be said to mitigate what was done here. We can toss around hypotheticals all day, but it doesn’t change what happened in this case. A shitbird broke the rules and deserves to be punished.

    If a civilian or dependent does this, then a 15-6 needs to be done to find the leak. If he told his wife and she leaks to the FRG, the 1SG needs to be slammed for violating OPSEC. If it is leaked by a DA civilian (IIRC, unit FRLs are civilian employees and most have clearances), then they need to be fired and have their clearance revoked. I’ve been through CNO/CNA training and my unit FRLs were required to go as well. You never tell anyone outside of the notification team (CDR, 1SG/CSM, CNO/CNA, FRL, etc) until word has come back that the CNO has made contact. It doesn’t matter if it takes days, you say nothing to anyone. I’ve dealt with this as a CNO. I was called in by my rear-det BDE CDR for a CNO outside the unit and my unit commander wasn’t told where I was for half a day, that’s how hard this process should be locked down if done properly. I can’t speak for the entire Army, but my unit had a policy and it was adhered to. Nobody in their right mind would ever tell anyone in the FRG about a casualty until the CNO is already enroute. If done properly, a FRG support team should arrive about an hour or so to assist the NOK. Sometimes the notification process doesn’t work so well (my first call in for CNO duty got nixed after the casaulty office realized that the spouse was at the hospital when he died). Sometimes the spouse is out of town (2nd call in, spouse was living back at parents home). Sometimes, the CNO knocks on the door and Jody answers (yes, it’s even covered during our training). But there is an SOP in place. Yes, there are times when the NOK finds out from someone other then the CNO, but the excusable instances are few and far between. Example: CNO in states makes contact with parents before CNO in Germany makes contact with spouse. Parents call daughter-in-law and she finds out from them.

    Casualty notification and casualty assistence is the worst duty an NCO or Officer can ever perform. There is nothing worse in the world then to watch a spouse open the door, see you and the Chaplain standing there in ASUs and watch their face as they realize you are about to ruin their life. It is a sacred duty and anyone who would shit on the seriousness of this is a disgrace to themselves and the Army.

  31. Gary says:

    Jason,

    Here is the major difference. Top’s wife is not a unifrmed member of the United States military. This shitbag is, thus subject to the UCMJ. And in your hypothetical wife told story, the spouse should be investigated for possible breach, and if the wife holds any position in the FRG- dismisal from it.

    Having been severely injured I can promise taht no one outside of the official channels knows the up-to-the-minute condition of that soldier. Bad info can easliy to conveyed to the family causing undue stress.

    And in the case of a death, no one has any business conveying that info unless they are standing in front of the family and can be of immediate comfort and support.

  32. J.M. says:

    @32: Well said. Unfortunately, the days where a CDR could simply order no cell phones in the field or actually implement a commo blackout downrange are long gone. The majority of troops have the integrity to do the right thing. But there’s always going to be some jackass that doesn’t.

  33. Just Plain Jason says:

    I agree with what you all said not disagreeing SM was wrong. Yaddda yaddda yaddda…. Never mind not worth it.

  34. Beretverde says:

    When CNN showed MSG ******’s dead body being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, his wife horrifically watched it on television and recognized that it was her husband. CNN News President at the time) Tom Johnson made the decision to show him (without pixilation).

    Years ago(a week after Rodney King riots), a police officer (friend of mine) was shot and killed in the line of duty. His wife received a phone call from and a female detective telling her not to leave home. That was a strange call and she flipped out before formal notification.

    With technology (satellite phones, twitter etc.) shit like this will occur. Technology vs. common sense. I hope it will be a learning process for all (very painful) on how to proceed.

  35. Bah Bodenkurk says:

    About the soldier, Staff Sergeant Chris Brown: He was on his fifth tour, fourth combat tour. He had been deployed to Korea, Iraq twice, and this was his second Afghanistan tour. He was in my company for the entire five years I was there, and he was my team leader for over a year and a half, my squad leader for a few months, and an overall great man. He was the life of the platoon- the one guy who could keep the moral up no matter what. He was the guy you would never think would have been killed by an IED. I know a lot of you on this blog have been in combat, and I bet a lot of you probably know how empty and gutless you feel when one of your friends gets killed while you are stuck on fucking recruiting duty, and you served two tours with that guy. You remember a lot about the guys who trained you. What I remember most about Brown is the way he refused to let the suck bring him down. As for training, he was the only leader I ever had that taught me properly how to get away with shit, heheheh.

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