The moment when a loved one passes away is the last in which residents will want to struggle to gather all of the information and documentation necessary to deal with the death.  However, for those who do not prepare beforehand, this is an unfortunate reality.

When the loved one was a U.S. veteran, matters can become even more complicated.  For this reason, military members have come together to provide veteran families with a valuable tool that can help ease the strife following a loss — The Survivors’ Handbook.

About the Handbook

The Survivors’ Handbook is available absolutely free of charge to anyone wishing to brace themselves for the inevitable, preventing the compounding of grief that can be caused by a lack of preparedness.  It was compiled by Richard D. Keirn, a veteran, and members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 730 out of Henderson, NV, and produced by the Veterans Transition Resource Center North Las Vegas.  Through his connections with valley veteran Dr. Tom Waters and others in the Pahrump community, Keirn is helping make this handbook available to local residents.

“They are grieving at that time, they are already in an emotional tailspin and then to have to try to figure, what do I do? This is the reason that we try to encourage veterans to put it together before anything happens, so their family doesn’t have to worry about that,” Waters said in an interview. “And it’s not to say people can’t use this after a death, because there are some families that have. But the ones who take care of it, their families are much better off when the time comes.”

The Survivors Handbook contains comprehensive information and is comprised of 16 separate sections outlining topics such as key documents to keep on hand, death notification checklist, VA death benefits and service, what to do when a veteran passes away and much more.

Section topics include:

– Name / DOB / Where Born / SSN / VA Claim #
– Dates of Military Service / Rank and Pay Grade
– Monthly Bills
– DD-214 / DMV Exempt Account #
– Medications List
– VA Claim Results / VA Disability Letters
– Medical “5” Wishes / Advanced Directive
– Wills / Living Revocable Trust
– Marriage Certificates / Divorce Decrees
– Birth Certificates
– Burial Plot Information
– Vehicle Information / Title / Insurance
– Retirement Orders / Social Security Information / Insurance Policies
– Checking & Saving Account Information

Waters detailed his own preparations, noting that his Survivors’ Handbook has been filled out, with his driver’s license, social security number, discharge and DD214 paperwork attached, his service information, such as years of service and even household information such as bank account numbers and a list of the monthly bills.

“It’s got anything that my wife will need to know and anything the service officer will need to put everything together for her,” Waters said. “It helps these family members obtain benefits and provides contact numbers for all those entities they need to contact after a death.”

To get your copy of the handbook:

  1. Veterans and their families can stop by the Pahrump VA Clinic to pick up a handbook.
  2. Download the handbook directly to your computer:

Veteran Survivors' Handbook | Purple Heart Chapter 730

Veteran Survivors' Handbook | Download Now | Purple Heart Chapter 730

The cost to print the Survivors’ Handbooks that are being handed out in the Pahrump area was covered by the generous contribution of local residents Nye County Commissioner John Koenig, Nevada Assemblyman James Oscarson and former Nye County Commissioner Frank Carbone.

“We have quite a few available and as soon as we get low on them, I’ll be working to get more of them printed. I definitely want to recognize those three for helping with this,” Waters stated.


Survivors Handbook word is getting around.  Besides the above article from the Pahrump Valley Times, I’ve had ten additional requests.

Richard Keirn
Jr. Vice Commander