Air Force Families Forever & Gold Star Families


Air Force Families Forever Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 1

Survivorship has two designations, Air Force Families Forever and Gold Star Families (including Past Conflicts). Survivorship has larger eligibility requirements outlined below which will be further broken down into the two primary designations:

Survivorship Eligibility:

Next of Kin (NOK) of fallen Regular Air Force and Reserve Component Airmen who died in an active duty, Inactive Duty Training (IDT), or annual training (AT) status


Next of Kin (NOK) status is determined by the following criteria:

  • Spouses (regardless of remarriage)
  • Adult children (including stepchildren and adopted children)
  • Parents (including stepmother/father, mother or father through
  • adoption, and foster parents who stood in loco parentis)
  • Siblings (including half-brother/sister


Gold Star Families (GSF):

  • Family member of Airman who died while engaged in combat or military conflict with an
  • opposing foreign force or as a result of an international terrorist attack against the US
  • Eligible to receive the Gold Star Lapel Button
  • Eligible to request installation access

 The “Gold Star” designation is set by law.  More specifically Title 10 USC Section 1126. In short, Gold Star families are survivors of military service members who lost their lives during armed hostilities, including deployments in support of military operations against an enemy and/or during an international terrorist attack. I have copied what it says below:

Past Conflict :

  • Family member of Airman who is unaccounted-for from our Nation’s Past Conflicts (i.e.,
  • Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, and other operations)
  • Supported in part by the Past Conflicts branch within the AF Casualty division. The Past
  • Conflicts branch is the liaison between the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency (DPAA) and past conflict survivors
  • May be eligible to attend DPAA hosted family update meetings throughout the country
  • Eligible to receive the Gold Star Lapel Button
  • Eligible to request installation access

 Air Force Families Forever (AFFF):

  • Family member of Airman who died under any circumstance, other than defined as Gold Star, while on Active Duty or “in a duty status” Guard or Reserve Airman
  • Eligible to receive the Next-of Kin Lapel Button
  • Eligible to request installation access


Base Access:

Base Access is through the DBIDS Card The purpose of the AF Defense Biometric Identification System (DBIDS) card is intended for recognition and installation access for Gold Star and Surviving Family Members. The DBIDS card provides the opportunity to attend installation events and access A&FRC referral services. The card grants access to the installation where it is obtained. Surviving family members must stop at the Visitor Center at alternate AF, Army, and Navy installations to register the DBIDS card to gain access.

24/7 Access

  • Three year expiration from date of card issue (indefinite renewals)
  • Applicable Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) activities
  • Cannot escort or sponsor other individuals
  • Cannot access the installation above FPCON Bravo
  • Cannot access BX, medical, commissary, etc.
  • To access additional AF, Army, or Navy installations, card must be registered at each Visitor Center

If you are a surviving family member that meets the criteria above,  please download and complete the Statement of Understanding found on this page and contact our AFFF/GSF specialist at 509-247-2246

Statement of Understanding


Gold star lapel button: eligibility and distribution

(a) A lapel button, to be known as the gold star lapel button, shall be designed, as approved by the Secretary of Defense, to identify widows, parents, and next of kin of members of the armed forces-

(1) who lost their lives during World War I, World War II, or during any subsequent period of armed hostilities in which the United States was engaged before July 1, 1958;

(2) who lost or lose their lives after June 30, 1958-

(A) while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States;

(B) while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or

(C) while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict in which the United States is not a belligerent party against an opposing armed force; or

(3) who lost or lose their lives after March 28, 1973, as a result of-

(A) an international terrorist attack against the United States or a foreign nation friendly to the United States, recognized as such an attack by the Secretary of Defense; or

(B) military operations while serving outside the United States (including the commonwealths, territories, and possessions of the United States) as part of a peacekeeping force.

(b) Under regulations to be prescribed by the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary concerned, upon application to him, shall furnish one gold star lapel button without cost to the widow and to each parent and next of kin of a member who lost or loses his or her life under any circumstances prescribed in subsection (a).

(c) Not more than one gold star lapel button may be furnished to any one individual except that, when a gold star lapel button furnished under this section has been lost, destroyed, or rendered unfit for use without fault or neglect on the part of the person to whom it was furnished, the button may be replaced upon application and payment of an amount sufficient to cover the cost of manufacture and distribution.

(d) In this section:

(1) The term "widow" includes widower.

(2) The term "parents" includes mother, father, stepmother, stepfather, mother through adoption, father through adoption, and foster parents who stood in loco parentis.

(3) The term "next of kin" includes only children, brothers, sisters, half-brothers, and half-sisters.

(4) The term "children" includes stepchildren and children through adoption.

(5) The term "World War I" includes the period from April 6, 1917, to March 3, 1921.

(6) The term "World War II" includes the period from September 8, 1939, to July 25, 1947, at 12 o'clock noon.

(7) The term "military operations" includes those operations involving members of the armed forces assisting in United States Government sponsored training of military personnel of a foreign nation.

(8) The term "peacekeeping force" includes those personnel assigned to a force engaged in a peacekeeping operation authorized by the United Nations Security Council.



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