Privacy Rights Alive vs. Deceased

Article 5 min
Review what information can be released for a person who is alive and a person who is deceased.
Privacy Rights Alive vs. Deceased
  Privacy Rights for the Living Privacy Rights for the Deceased
Name Releasable, within guidelines described within this DoDI 1300.18, Department of Defense (DoD) Personnel Casualty Matters, Policies and Procedures. If possible, release all services’ casualty names simultaneously. Releasable, within guidelines described within this DoDI 1300.18, Department of Defense (DoD) Personnel Casualty Matters, Policies and Procedures. If possible, release all services’ casualty names simultaneously.
Age and Date of Birth Releasable only with permission from individual Releasable
Home of Record (address and telephone number) Not Releasable Not Releasable
Gender Releasable Releasable
Race or National Origin Releasable Releasable
Marital Status (single, divorced, married, widowed, etc.) Not Releasable Not Releasable
Family Member Information (number, age, gender or names) Not Releasable Not Releasable
Military or Civilian Grade and Rank Releasable Releasable
Salary and Allowance Information Releasable, except basic allowance for housing Releasable, except basic allowance for housing
Administrative Discharge Boards Not Releasable Not Releasable
Selective Early Retirement Boards and Reduction in Force Boards Not Releasable Not Releasable
Official Photographs and Biographies of Military and Civilian Personnel Releasable only with permission from individual Releasable only with permission from individual's family
Official Photographs and Biographies of Individuals Not Described Above Releasable only with permission from individual or if it is authorized by the Privacy Act Releasable only after the investigation has been completed and it has been 24 hours after the next-of-kin's notification
Discharge Status Information (honorable, under honorable conditions, etc.)* Not Releasable, unless individual gives written consent to release Not Releasable, unless individual's family gives written consent to release
Information on ill or injured service members Releasable only with permission from individual or if it is authorized by the Privacy Act N/A
The apparent cause of death (i.e. homicide, suicide) N/A Not releasable until the investigation is completed and after consultation with the investigative agency. Release cannot be made until 24 hours after next-of-kin notification.
Current, past and future assignments Releasable, except sensitive and overseas assignments masked in unit records Releasable, except sensitive and overseas assignments masked in unit records
Current or future office and unit address and duty telephone number for personnel or units stationed overseas or for routinely deployable or sensitive units Not Releasable Not Releasable
Information concerning civilian educational degrees and major areas of study, school and year of graduation Not Releasable, unless individual gives written consent to release Not Releasable, unless family member/individual gives written consent to release
Employers of Reserve or National Guard Members Releasable only with consent of the Reserve or National Guard member N/A
Military awards, decorations, or citations Releasable Releasable
Civilian awards Not Releasable Not Releasable
Regarding military personnel board decisions: Actions that affect groups, such as promotion boards or augmentation boards Releasable Releasable
In the cases of service members who have been unaccounted for from past conflicts Public release cannot occur until 24 hours after the last of the Next of Kin (NOK) accepts the member’s identification or 24 hours after the last of NOK has been notified that the Armed Forces Identification Review Board has upheld the identification. N/A
Regarding releasing the names of persons admitted to military medical facilities PA should coordinate responses to query or news releases about the admittance or status of patients with the military treatment facility’s privacy officer (each location is required to have an individual acting in this capacity). N/A

* If a case has received extensive publicity, the discharge status and condition information may be releasable. Consult the local SJA,Secretary PA level or OSD/PA level for guidance in this situation.

Other Circumstances Surrounding Privacy Rights

Regarding prisoners, base releases about stockade or guardhouse prisoner escapes, unusual incidents or disturbances in local confinement facilities enhance relations with the general public and the news media:

  • Limit release to information on the Department of Defense (DoD) Form 553, Deserter/Absentee Wanted by the Armed Forces except for those blocks specifically prohibited.

Regarding Prisoners of War and Missing in Action (POW/MIA):

  • OSD/PA regulates information release for POW/MIA situations.
  • Since hostilities and conditions of peace vary, information policy changes periodically.

For persons who've been alleged/convicted of a crime, the following information is releasable:

  • Names of persons charged with crimes, unless the person is a minor
  • Date and nature of the alleged offense, as shown in the court-martial order
  • Sentence after a trial
  • Type of punitive discharge (if any) from the military, and whether it was executed, suspended or remitted
  • Confinement circumstances or date of release from confinement
  • Previous convictions or absence of them
  • Findings of guilty or not guilty

When releasing names after an accident:

  • If, in the judgment of the commander, releasing survivors’ names would reveal the identity of deceased individuals prior to next-of-kin (NOK) notification (in the case of crew members known by their families to customarily fly together, for example), the survivors’ names may be withheld.

    Do this only when the potential for the NOK deducing their loss through news stories and rumors on social media/spouse network about the survivors is so strong that the circumstances clearly warrant leaving other families in suspense.

In cases where a foreign national (other than a locally hired employee) is an accident casualty, the name is only releasable if the host nation coordinates and confirms that all NOK notifications have taken place.

  • When the foreign national is locally employed by a host nation agency, the host nation’s agency rules take precedence.
  • Overseas major commands (MAJCOMs) must develop policy for releasing names of local/national employees injured on duty.

Regarding key U.S. and foreign government persons, the release of any information requires caution. Because of national and international interest and implications, carefully coordinate the release of casualty information concerning key U.S. Government personnel or equivalent rank foreign government visitors. This applies when the following key persons are killed, injured or listed as missing while on an military installation or traveling in a government vehicle or aircraft, notify OSD/PA press desk for public announcement by the White House Press Secretary:

  • The President of the United States
  • The Vice President of the United States
  • Speaker of the House of Representatives
  • President Pro Tempore of the Senate
  • Members of the Cabinet
  • Foreign visitors of political or royal rank equivalent to the above list of U.S. officials and chiefs of foreign military services
  • U.S. Senators
  • U.S. Representatives
  • Secretaries of the Military Departments
  • The Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Commanders of combatant and specified commands
  • Federal Government department heads

The installation PA office withholds casualty information on the following officials until OSD/PA approves: all military officers and civilian employees in the grades of lieutenant general, senior executive service precedent priority code DV4 and above.

SAF/PA may authorize releasing casualty information before securing OSD/PA approval if specific by-name queries are received. Only do this when OSD/PA approval is not available in time to meet immediate needs.

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