When Sergeant Tina Grant's soldier-husband was killed in Afghanistan, she found out the hard way that military support for bereaved families withered away fast.

Corporal Doug Grant, 41, a Special Air Service (SAS) soldier, was shot dead during an operation to rescue hostages at the British Council cultural centre in August 2012.

The centre, in the capital Kabul, was under attack by the Taliban.

Doug Grant was on the roof of a building near the centre when he was shot through the chest.

Advertisement

Three British civilians and two Gurkha security guards were rescued.

SAS soldier Corporal Doug Grant, who was also in a military-linked motorcycle club, was killed by a Taliban bullet in Afghanistan in 2011. Photo / supplied
SAS soldier Corporal Doug Grant, who was also in a military-linked motorcycle club, was killed by a Taliban bullet in Afghanistan in 2011. Photo / supplied

Tina Grant served at the time in the Defence Force education corps and had worked as a medic. The couple had two children.

Now, more than seven years later, Tina Grant runs a support service for families who lose a loved one within the military.

"I established the role after my husband was killed.

"There was help for the funeral, but then afterwards it was like, 'Okay, you need to go it alone now, you need to get by yourself'.

"I had no idea what I was doing, no idea how to get support."

Sergeant Tina Grant with her children, Jemma Grant and Jaden. Photo / Michael Craig
Sergeant Tina Grant with her children, Jemma Grant and Jaden. Photo / Michael Craig

A friend persuaded her to do something about the lack of ongoing support and Grant wrote to the then-Chief of the Defence Force, Lieutenant General Rhys Jones.

"He approved it, said it was a good idea and it rolled into the position of liaison officer for Families of the Fallen."

Grant is in contact with a family before the funeral of a deceased serviceman or woman - whether killed on operations overseas or in New Zealand, or from accident or self-harm - and also offers longer-term support.

That can entail many things, such as advice on approaching Veterans Affairs, holding a memorial event, or the family being invited to a memorial at a military camp to celebrate the life of their loved one.

She also organises gatherings just for bereaved families.

"They sit there and cry and talk about their loved ones. It's as though they already know each other's loved-ones. They don't probe, they just feel comfortable, they share experiences.

"That gives them comfort. Most people in civilian life you feel are a little bit different when it comes to the loss of a loved one.

"The military is a family. Once that connection between the army and the family is severed, that family feels alone. Bringing the families together for situations like Anzac Day or a memorial brings back the love and warmth and friendship of the family that was originally the army."

Grant said that when her husband died, she felt she had no future. "There was just me and my kids.

"Then I met a wonderful man and things [now] couldn't be better."

He is a military man, Warrant Officer Class One Lyall Mooney, who is at present studying in the United States at a sergeants major academy. Grant and him are a couple and she and her children, aged 13 and 15, are with him in the US.

For Anzac Day they have been invited by the New Zealand and Australian ambassadors, Rosemary Banks and Joe Hockey, to attend commemorative services in Washington DC.