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She’s hardly morbid but her job is

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Talking about death isn't exactly an easy task for anyone. On each air force base, the responsibility of dealing with this task falls on the shoulders of a mortuary affairs officer.
Thea Wasche, serves as both the 50th Force Support Squadron deputy commander as well as the Schriever mortuary affairs officer.
 
Wasche never imagined taking the job would require her to attend mortuary school, let alone be the liaison for the Air Force to grieving families of fallen Airmen.

"Twenty years ago, I attended an intense mortuary school at the Air Force Institute of Technology, where I learned everything from search and recovery to embalming, and even witnessed autopsies," Wasche said. "I was an art and science major in college so it was quite a different experience."

She's done everything from coordinating funerals with honors across the country to ensuring that every family who has lost an Airman receives a family assistance representative who provides care, service and support.

Her co-workers agree, helping families and caring for others is second nature to Wasche. And, even though her job requires a great deal of attention to detail and seriousness, she has a good sense of humor.

As Janet Cramer, 50 FSS resource manager, put it, "Mrs. Wasche is always so chipper; I don't know how she manages all of her responsibilities and is still always looking for ways to do more."

Cramer has worked closely with Wasche for the last three years and said Wasche, whose mom-like qualities care for her staff, enjoys a good laugh and can also be quite the jokester.

"One time she brought a toy rat into the office and we thought it was real, some of us screamed," said Cramer. "It was pretty funny."

Her personality juxtaposed with her role as a death counselor seems ironic. But, Wasche said she just wants to help others by taking care of them in any way she can.

"No one ever anticipates death, so when one occurs, it's my job to ensure that from the time we receive the notification until the time the member is laid to rest, I am involved," said Wasch.

She follows Air Force Instruction 134-242 for guidance on the Air Force's Mortuary Affairs Program as well as what actions she needs to take while assisting families.

Regardless of her duty title, Wasche said she will always take care of Schriever families.

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