A casualty is a member of the military unable to fulfill their duties due to death or incapacitation by injury or illness. That's the military definition. For families of our military, the term "casualty" conjures up images of destruction and death. It's a tough term to grapple with when you've got a Marine deployed or soon to be deploying.
However, knowledge is power, and we firmly believe that educated families are better able to handle the rollercoaster of deployment emotions. So, let's dig into some terminology and procedures.
All Marines are required to fill out a RED card prior to deployment. The RED card includes the next of kin names, addresses and contact information. The following terminologies will be useful in understanding the notification process:
- PNOK: Primary Next of Kin
- SNOK: Secondary Next of Kin
- RED Card: Record of Emergency Data (or DD Form 93)
Casualty does not mean death. Casualty means anything that keeps the Marine from performing his/her duties. There are varying degrees of casualties, as defined with the terminology and acronyms below:
- Wounded in Action (WIA)
- Very seriously ill or injured (VSI)
- Seriously ill or injured (SI)
- Incapacitating illness or injury (III)
- Not seriously injured (NSI)
- Duty status-whereabouts unknown (DUSTWUN)
- Missing (MIA)
- Deceased (KIA)
When someone is wounded in action or has an illness or disease, they will be further categorized in one of the following statuses:
- Very Seriously Injured (VSI): the casualty status of a person whose injury/illness is classified by medical authorities to be of such severity that life is imminently endangered.
- Seriously Ill or Injured (SI): the casualty status of a person whose illness or injury is classified by medical authorities to be of such severity that there is cause for immediate concern, but there is no imminent danger to life.
- Incapacitating Illness or Ia (III): person whose illness or injury requires hospitalization, but medical authority does not classify as very seriously ill or injured or seriously ill or injured; the illness or injury makes the person physically or mentally unable to communicate with the next of kin.
- Not Seriously Injured (NSI): the casualty status of a person whose injury or illness may or may not require hospitalization but not classified by a medical authority as very seriously injured (VSI), seriously injured (SI), or incapacitating illness or injury (III); the person is able communicate with the Next of Kin (NOK).
- Duty Status-Whereabouts Unknown (DUSTWUN): A transitory casualty status, applicable only to military personnel, that is used when the responsible commander suspects the member may be a casualty whose absence is involuntary, but does not feel sufficient evidence currently exists to make a definite determination of missing or deceased.
Understanding this terminology is important but it certainly isn't necessary for you to memorize these terms.
The links in the right-hand box include additional information as well as links to our outreach programs to assist families who may experience a casualty, for both Purple Heart families and Gold Star families.
If you are interested in sending Prayers and Letters to injured Marines, please visit "Operation PAL™" (see the link on the right) to learn how you can make a difference in the lives of these outstanding men and women.