An official army family and MWR Site

About SOS

Welcome to the Army Survivor Outreach Services website. If you came to this page because you are a surviving Family member, please know we are here for you. Survivor Outreach Services is the official Army program designed to provide long term support to surviving Families of Fallen Soldiers.  This is your program! Conceived of and developed by Survivors, this program is continually refined based on Survivor feedback and involvement by senior Army leaders. 

Survivor Outreach Services is a “one” Army program.   Regardless of your loved one’s Army component, duty status, location, or manner of death, Survivor Outreach Services Support Coordinators and Financial Counselors are here to provide dedicated outreach and support when, and for as long as you desire.

We are here for you. Army National Guard, US Army Reserve and Active Component Families are served by the closest Survivor Outreach Services support office (see our services locator link).

We know that there are no words or actions that can ever fully solace you in your loss, for there is no greater calling than to serve ones’ nation with honor and dignity. For us, there is no greater duty than to support the Families of those who have died in service to our nation.


In 1947, Congress* approved the use of the Gold Star Lapel Button as a way to recognize the families of service members who lose their lives while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States. In 1977, the Army approved issue of the Lapel Button for the Next of Kin of Deceased Personnel to honor those who lose their lives while serving on active duty or while assigned in a Reserve or National Guard unit in a drill status. Issue of the button is retroactive to 29 March 1973.

These small lapel buttons, or pins, as they are commonly called, are normally presented to eligible Family members prior to the military funeral service. Although they are less than an inch in size, they are packed with great meaning and emotion. They are not awards. They are symbols of honor. Here is how you can tell them apart.


This symbol consists of a gold star on a purple background, bordered in gold and surrounded by gold laurel leaves. It is designated for eligible survivors of service members who lose their lives during any armed hostilities in which the United States is engaged, dating back to World War I. This includes service members who lose their lives while deployed in support of military operations against the enemy or during an international terrorist attack.


This symbol consists of a gold star within a circle that commemorates his or her honorable service. The gold star is also surrounded by sprigs of oak that represent the branches of the Armed Forces. It is designated for eligible survivors of service members who lose their lives while serving honorably under circumstances not defined above. This includes service members who lose their lives while assigned to a Reserve or National Guard unit in a drill status. It is authorized for issue retroactive to March 29, 1973.

Who can wear the pin?

The family members entitled to receive and wear these symbols are the widow or widower; each child, stepchild, and child through adoption; each brother, half brother, sister, half sister, step-brother, and step-sister; and each of the parents (this includes mother, father, stepmother, stepfather, mother through adoption, father through adoption, and foster parents in loco parentis).

I did not receive a pin, where do I get one?

If you are an eligible family member, but did not receive the lapel button to which you are entitled, you can request one through the National Archives. You can also apply for a replacement should yours ever be lost or damaged. If you would like help applying for a new or replacement Lapel Button, contact Army Survivor Outreach Services.

*The descriptions on this page are intended to provide an overview of the public law governing the distribution of Gold Star lapel buttons.  To view the law in its entirety, click here.

Learn about the symbols of honor surviving military Families wear

Symbols of Honor: Blue Star and Gold Star Service Flags

The Blue Star Service Flag

Blue Star Service Flag: Patented by retired Army CPT Robert Queissner in 1917, the Service Flag, also known as a Blue Star Flag or Service Banner, represents a family member serving in the Armed Forces during a time of conflict.

The Gold Star Service Flag: Created in 1918 after President Woodrow Wilson approved a suggestion allowing mothers who lost a child serving in the war to wear a gold gilt star on the traditional black mourning arm band.

Service Flags were officially authorized by Congressional Act 36 U.S.C. 179-182 (1967), the Service Banners are usually displayed in a window of a home where an immediate Family member of a service member resides. Service flags may be displayed for the duration of the conflict.

Authorization to Fly the Gold Star Service Flag on Army Installation Flagpoles

On 4 November 2014, LTG James McConville, the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1, granted authority to installation commanders to display the Gold Star Service flag beneath the US flag on Army installation flagpoles during installation hosted or designated Survivor recognition days. This initiative is in support of the Chief of Staff of the Army's Gold Star Education Campaign to bring awareness to the service and sacrifice of America's Fallen.

Installation commanders may display the flag from 4 November 2014 through 28 February 2015 and on designated dates thereafter (Gold Star Mothers Day, Gold Star Wives Day, and other Survivor recognition days as determined by the installation commander). Only one flag is authorized to be flown below the US flag, and when flown, must be approximately six inches below the US flag. This authorization is granted as an exception to Army Regulation 840-10, Flags Guidons, Streamers, Tabards, and Automobile and Aircraft Plates, 1 November 1998, which states that the US flag is the only flag that may be flown over a CONUS Army installation.

Apr 5, 2013

H.R.1851: Family Act of 2013

Apr 26, 2013

H.R. 32: Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act

(Aug 2 2013 New Cosponsors added)

H.R 32

Apr 24, 2013

S. 735: Survivor Benefits Improvement Act of 2013

S. 735

S.Con.Res. 15: A concurrent resolution expressing the sense of Congress that the Chained Consumer Price Index should not be used to calculate cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security or veterans benefits, or to increase the tax burden on low- and middle income taxpayers.

S. Con. Res. 15

Apr 22, 2013

H.R. 1067: To make revisions in title 36, United States Code, as necessary to keep the title current and make technical corrections and improvements.

H.R. 1067

S. 734: A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to repeal the requirement for reduction of survivor annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan by veterans’ dependency and indemnity compensation.

(5 Aug 2013 New Cosponsors added)

S. 734


Gold Star Pins 

Learn about the symbols of honor surviving military Families wear