When a U.S. soldier dies while downrange, the surviving spouse is required to leave Germany after 90 days.

Families can submit a request to their local Housing Office to stay in government quarters beyond the 90-day grace period, according to Hilde Patton, a U.S. Army Europe spokeswoman.

However there are numerous administrative requirements for those who might attempt to stay.

After expiration of the 90-day grace period, family members would need to comply with German immigration and/or alien registration requirements unless they were German citizens, Patton said.

“USAREUR is legally prohibited from providing services and support after 90 days if full [status of forces agreement] status is required to enjoy those privileges,” she added.

For example, families would not be able to buy rationed items or use Community Bank accounts, and they would need to de-register any vehicles from the U.S. Forces registration system, Patton said.

Children of deceased soldiers can attend Department of Defense Dependents Schools for the school year in which the sponsor’s death occurs on a space-required, tuition-free basis. But for the next school year, parents would need to pay the child’s tuition and kids could only attend on a space-available basis, she said.

Also, after the 90-day period, family members would be restricted to 16-ounce packages for mail in and out of military post offices in Germany. Spouses of deceased soldiers could shop at Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores and on-post Commissaries but would have to obtain a German Customs Certificate and pay 13.5 percent in duties on items purchased, Patton said.

USAREUR did not respond to a question about whether it was acting to get the policy changed.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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