By Rick Kincaid, Program Director
NSSAR Operation Ancestor Search
Operation Ancestor Search (OAS) is a free, NSSAR genealogy training program for wounded warriors and their families. It provides participants with the knowledge and tools that allow them to conduct their own genealogy research as they recover from their injuries at military hospitals and medical centers across the country.
The OAS program is conducted through SAR state societies and local affiliate chapters and their volunteer members. The national committee evolved from a local program developed at the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center (now the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center) by the DCSSAR.
The program proved so successful that Ancestry.com became a major national sponsor, contributing a $180,000 grant over three years, renewable for another three years after the initial period.
Founder and National Co-Chairman Carl B. Bedell of Arlington, Va., presides over the OAS Committee. Each state society has its own OAS chairman to spearhead these efforts and coordinate that state’s programs. State chairmen serve as ex offcio members of the national committee.
State and local OAS committee members are volunteers who desire to share the genealogy expertise within the SAR to give something back to the wounded warriors who were injured in their service to our nation. They provide injured service members with the knowledge and tools they need to conduct their own genealogy research in training classes, work sessions, individual hands-on assistance, and most notably, access to Ancestry.com databases.
OAS volunteers perform the following:
- Help target the military medical facilities within their respective states that are most open and receptive to offering the OAS program to their wounded warriors.
- Help identify the key personnel at those facilities and ensure that the facilities have adequate meeting space and computer equipment.
- Help match the facilities with the leadership of the SAR local chapters and other support organizations in their closest proximity to ensure adequate volunteer support.
- Ensure that the state and local OAS committees are “visionary,” meaning they will serve not only the needs of the wounded warriors while they are inpatients, but that they will collaborate with local genealogical societies, lineage societies, libraries and other organizations for support with training, reintegration and mentoring after they transition back to their local communities.
- Ensure that the SAR’s greatest resources—our members in local chapters across the country, in concert with our state and national organizations—continue to develop OAS as the pre-eminent SAR program, not only for us, but for our OAS partners who provide the resources that support our nation’s wounded warriors and their families.
If you are are interested in helping with Operation Ancestor Search at the state or local level, please contact your state OAS chairman. If your state society does not yet have an OAS Chairman, or if you do not know, please contact your state president if you are interested in serving in that capacity.
For additional information on the OAS program, please contact Rick Kincaid, the national program director by email.