Skillbuilding, NGS 2017: Bloom’s “Past Conflict Repatriation”

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2017 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 11 May 2017.

T241, Jean Larzalere Bloom, CG, “Past Conflict Repatriation: The Role of Genealogists and Methodology in Fulfilling Our Nation’s Promise”

Reviewed by Catherine Desmarais, CG

“This is what I was put on earth to do.” Jeanne Bloom’s passion for her work was evident as she presented “Past Conflict Repatriation: The Role of Genealogists and Methodology in Fulfilling Our Nation’s Promise.”

Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG

Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG

Jeanne began by sharing the values with which the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), the agency that oversees the US military repatriation efforts, approaches their work.  They conduct their mission, to “provide the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel to their families and the nation,” with compassion, integrity, teamwork, respect, and innovation. She told the audience how each value impacts the work she does as a Certified Genealogist® for the US Army.

Respect and compassion are core values for Jeanne. Part of her job is to call the soldier’s family members she locates. She frames each call with respect and compassion for whatever reaction she may encounter. A few relatives want to keep the past in the past, while others are still torn up by the loss that occurred more than seventy years ago.  Jeanne stressed that she cannot impose her feelings on the family member she speaks to. Rather, she respects the full range of emotions.

Jeanne next explained the genealogist’s role in the Army repatriation cases. DPAA requires that each case referred for genealogy research must involve a credentialed (Board-certified or Accredited) genealogist. Starting with very little information in the soldier’s file, the task is to locate the two closest next-of-kin as well as eligible family DNA donors. For each case Jeanne is given a little over thirty research hours, and generally up to 90 days, to achieve this. The target DNA donors include three mitochondrial DNA donors, one yDNA donor, and, when available, a close family autosomal DNA donor. Often Jeanne finds close relatives, such as a soldier’s sibling, child, or niece/nephew. Other times she may have to go out to distant cousins to find a DNA donor. In an extreme case she researched a family back to 1730 to find a line to trace forward to the present day to locate a yDNA donor.

With 400 to 500 cases completed over thirteen years at a 95% success rate, Jeanne has learned a few tricks of the trade.  She shared a few with her audience, including descriptions of the types of resources she’s found particularly helpful, as well as some of her favorite strategies. She told stories that illustrated the lengths she’s gone to in order to find the families of “her boys,” including help from a VFW bartender and the grandson of the soldier’s brother’s stepchildren. Creativity and detective doggedness are a must for this work.

“No One Left Behind” is a sacred vow of the US Military. Jeanne Bloom is doing her part to make that happen.

A recording of this lecture may be ordered from Playback Now www.playbackngs.com.

The words Certified Genealogist are a registered certification mark, and the designations CG, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.

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