Military Survivor Study

The National Military Family Bereavement Study

The National Military Family Bereavement Study is the first large scientific study of the impact of a U.S. service member death on surviving family members. The research is being conducted by Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress (CSTS) in Bethesda, Maryland. The multi-disciplinary research team is led by Stephen J. Cozza, M.D., Associate Director of CSTS/Director of the Child and Family Program.

The death of a family member is a life-changing event for the entire family. Although bereavement eventually occurs in every family, not all bereaved persons grieve in the same way. Surviving members of military families may offer a unique perspective to understanding grief. From the initial distress of notification to longer-term challenges, family members face difficult emotional and practical issues possibly related to distinctive characteristics of military death. However, families impacted by a U.S. military death may also possess unique protective factors that affect their bereavement process and experience of loss.


There is a lack of substantive research on the impact of the death of a family member serving in the U.S. military. The need to study individual and family bereavement when a U.S. military service member dies is critical to understanding the experience of grief and loss in this unique survivor population.

This study’s findings will help to provide a scientific basis to inform policies effecting survivor care. This study seeks to better understand the impact of a service member’s death on his or her family of origin and family of procreation. The study investigates the impact of community support and services on the bereaved and how available resources impact resilience or vulnerability in surviving families. Finally, this study builds on the growing evidence addressing the intersection of grief and trauma and its effects on military family member's bereavement process.


You and your family may benefit from sharing your experiences about changes in your life during the period of adjustment following your service member’s death. Future families will benefit from your participation because what we learn in this study about the effects of bereavement on children and families will be used to help the military provide improved support and better programs for bereaved families.

Study Partners

The study team continues to collaborate with experts at universities and organizations across the country. Our collaborators provide a wide range of support to the study by contributing guidance in study design, questionnaire development, community engagement, survivor support services, and survivor outreach. For a full list of our community sponsors, please visit the “Partners of the Study” section on the homepage.

Who can participate in this study?

Those eligible to participate will include: parents/step-parents/adoptive/legal guardians; siblings/step-siblings; spouses/ex-spouses; children/step-children whose related service member has died by all circumstances of death (such as accident, homicide, illness, killed in action, suicide) on active duty status in the U.S. Military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, & Coast Guard — active, guard & reserve) on or after September 11, 2001.

How can I participate in this study?

There are three parts to this study. You can participate in the first part of the study by completing a questionnaire that is available on this website. After completing the questionnaire, you have the option to enroll in the second part by participating in an interview and completing additional questionnaires. You also have the option of providing a saliva sample for a third part of the study (see Frequently Asked Questions about Providing Saliva Sample). You will receive a VISA gift card for each part of the study which you complete.


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For press inquiries please visit the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences office of media affairs or contact Sharon K. Willis, Director of Media Affairs.

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