Showing posts with label Gold Star Families. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gold Star Families. Show all posts

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Global War On Terror fallen deserve honor, not excuses

There is no excuse to block building a memorial to the fallen Global War On Terror service members!

Bill allowing Global War on Terrorism Memorial on National Mall could set bad precedent, senator argues
SEPTEMBER 21, 2021

WASHINGTON — An effort to pass legislation that would allow for the construction of a Global War on Terrorism Memorial on the National Mall was blocked Monday out of concern that its passage would be unfair and create a bad precedent for any future memorials.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, asked on the Senate floor Monday evening that her colleagues approve the bill under unanimous consent, meaning the chamber could pass the legislation unless someone stood to object. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., blocked the vote.
This graphic shows three locations in Washington, D.C., where organizers of the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation prefer for a new memorial honoring post-9/11 veterans. An effort to pass legislation that would allow for the construction of a Global War on Terrorism Memorial on the National Mall was blocked Monday out of concern that its passage would be unfair and create a bad precedent for any future memorials. (Contributed by the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation)
The bill seeks to exempt the Global War on Terrorism Memorial from a 2003 law that prohibits any more development on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

“This legislation would override this provision,” Manchin said. “This precedent would reopen fights to locate other memorials on the National Mall, create conflict, and ultimately delay the construction of this memorial.”

Organizers behind the effort to establish the memorial are renewing their push for it to be located on the National Mall following the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in August.

They held a news conference Tuesday in front of the U.S. Capitol, urging Congress to consider the bill.

“We’re at a significant moment in the history of the Global War on Terrorism,” said Marina Jackman, an Army veteran and the president of the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation. “Service members and their families are asking themselves what their service means. Now more than ever, the service member and veteran community needs a place to gather, reflect and heal.”
read more here
According to CNN this memorial will be paid by private donations and according to the act, the power is up to the committee to do it. 
Lyn Schultes Franco, a spokesperson for the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation, says a national competition is possible but has not been confirmed yet as the design process.

The Global War on Terror Memorial Act was signed into law in 2017 by then-President Donald Trump. The bill authorized the creation of the memorial on federal land in Washington, which is to be privately funded, but did not specifically designate where and when it would be built.
The Commemorative Works Committee
§ 9–204.13. Authority of the Committee.
(a) The Committee shall act in an advisory capacity to the Mayor and the Council to:
(1) Develop criteria to be used to review, evaluate, approve, or deny applications for placement of commemorative works on public space in the District;
(2) Review each application for placement of a commemorative work on public space in the District, by considering: the appropriateness of the location, subject matter, and design of the commemorative work, including the aesthetic, environmental, traffic and parking, and financial impacts of the proposal upon the surrounding community and the District; and the sufficiency of the sponsor to fund the construction and maintenance of the commemorative work;
(3) Refer each application for a commemorative work on public space in the District for review and comments by affected advisory neighborhood commissions, by affected District agencies and public utilities, by the Commission on Fine Arts if required by law, by the National Capital Planning Commission if required by law, and by the National Capital Memorial Commission; and
(4) Recommend to the Mayor and the Council a disposition of each application for placement of a commemorative work on public space in the District.

Some say that the Global War On Terror is ongoing and it is too soon for a memorial. Well that is a false argument too. The Vietnam War Memorial was designed to all for additional names to be added because of the wounds that would cause more to die as a result of their service.

From We Are The Mighty
The eligibility dates span Nov. 1, 1955, through May 15, 1975, though the first date on The Wall during its dedication was from 1959. A service member who died in 1956 was added after The Wall was dedicated – and names have actually been added on multiple occasions.
10 more names were added to The Wall in 2012 and the statuses of 12 others were changed. The 10 servicemen came from the Marine Corps, Navy, Army, and Air Force, and died between 1966 and 2011. The Department of Defense determined that all deaths were the result of wounds sustained in Vietnam.

It is time to do the right thing and honor those who paid the price to serve this country as requested by 4 presidents and an endless number of politicians who sent them!  

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

President Donald Trump's tax law hit Gold Star Children

Lawmakers change Trump tax law that hit Gold Star families with 'kiddie tax'

NBC News
By Corky Siemaszko
May 21, 2019
The federal government "is trying to save a few bucks by ripping off" military families, Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., said.
The Senate on Tuesday passed a change to President Donald Trump's tax law after it unexpectedly socked hundreds of Gold Star families this year with a "kiddie tax" of thousands of dollars.
Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.Aaron P. Bernstein / Getty Images file

The new tax law treated military and Veteran Affairs survivor benefits as trusts or estates, which subjects them to a tax rate as high as 37 percent.

The Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act would fix the error by treating military and VA survivor benefits as earned income, which is taxed at a much lower rate. That bill now goes to the House for consideration.

"Gold Star families have sacrificed so much for our nation, and passing this legislation to remove the exorbitant tax on surviving children's benefits is the least we can do," Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., said after the Gold Star Families Tax Relief Act passed the Senate with unanimous and bipartisan support.
read more here

Gold Star families hit by huge tax increase on benefits

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Gold Star Families hit by huge tax increases on benefits?

Gold Star widow "shocked" by new tax bill on sons' survivor benefits

CBS News
April 25, 2019
Because a surviving spouse can't receive both Veteran Affairs and Defense Department benefits simultaneously in full, Gold Star parents often sign the taxable DOD benefits over to their children. But the new tax law lumps Gold Star children into a bracket known as the "kiddie tax" at 37 percent, much higher than their previous tax rate.
Coronado, Calif. — Many Americans were shocked by their tax bills this month. The new law was especially costly for our nation's Gold Star families, who saw the taxes owed on their survivor benefits skyrocket.

Theresa Jones has been a single mom to Anthony and Hunter for almost six years. Her husband Landon, a Navy chopper pilot, died in the Red Sea during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2013.

It's been a challenge for Jones, especially financially. They've been able to stay afloat because of the survivor benefits they receive, aid that came with an unexpected surprise at tax time.

"When I saw that tax bill I was shocked at how much these boys owed on benefits that were given to them," Jones said.

The boys each received about $15,000 in survivor benefits last year. Jones was hit with a tax bill of $5,400 for them, up from $1,100 from the previous year.
read more here

Monday, June 4, 2018

Gold Star kids helping each other grieve

Gold Star children help others through the grief of losing a loved one
CBS News
June 4, 2018
There are more than 5,000 Gold Star kids around the country, grieving the death of a parent, sibling or close relative. They come together each year at the Good Grief Camp, run by the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or TAPS.

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Brynnly and Aynsley Thomson come to their father's grave often. Army Col. Todd Thomson served two tours in Iraq, before he died in 2012.
CBS News' Jeff Glor recently met the Thomson girls at Arlington National Cemetery's section 60, the final resting place for the men and women who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Tell me what it's like visiting here," Glor asked.

"Well, when you come here, you think back to the funeral, and when the last time you said goodbye [was]," Aynsley said.
read more here

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Police Officer Pulled Veteran Over To Thank Him

Police officer pulls over a man because he looks like his dead son; what he sees on the dashboard

Connect Statesboro
Melinda Fox
September 1, 2017

Jazwinski concluded his Facebook post with these words:
"To all the family and friends of soldiers, fighting or done fighting, God bless you. Your peace and your hearts. It's so hard without them, I know. This road is a tremendous one. Love to all."

'I still don't believe it most days he's gone.' By Melinda Fox Sept. 1, 2017

William Jazwinski didn't know why a police officer pulled him over on April 18. He asked the officer if he had been speeding.

The officer responded, "No, not speeding. Just wanted to stop ya and say thank you for your service."

Jazwinski remembered the bumper sticker on his vehicle that identified him as a member of the military and began chatting with the officer about his military service.

Jazwinski had served 15 months as a heavy wheel vehicle operator in Iraq. Now home, he had just completed a post-traumatic stress disorder program and kept the folded U.S. flag he received from the military on the dashboard of his truck.

It was this flag that prompted the officer to open up about the real reason he had pulled Jazwinski over.

The officer told Jazwinski that he had been sent a flag in honor of his son who was in the military as well. He said, "My son went to Iraq. He didn't make it home."

The police officer continued, "You remind me of my son. I pulled you over. I thought you were him. I still don't believe it most days he's gone."

The officer then asked Jazwinski, "Do you mind stepping out and receiving a hug?"

Jazwinski admits that this hug was something that not only the police officer needed, but he needed, too.

"With tears in both our eyes I got out and hugged that man. I'm talking about for a minute or two crying. Down to our knees crying. I needed that."
read more here

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The House in the Woods Provides Veterans Solace From Community

Veteran says House in the Woods saved him, hopes it can now help others
Zach Blanchard
July 08, 2017
Lawrence said he was overcome by PTSD after he served two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He now credits House in the Woods with saving him and wants to do the same for others.
LEE, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – The House in the Woods, a project aimed at providing military veterans a place of refuge, held its grand opening Saturday.

The project has been the work of the House and Emery families after they both lost their sons in the line of duty.

Sgt. Joel House died in June 2007, and Sgt. Blair Emery died just months later in November. Both served in Iraq.

10 years after their deaths, the families were able to open their facility in Lee thanks to a massive outpouring of local support from individuals and companies.

The lodge-style facility has a large gathering space, commercial kitchen, as well as lodging for guests and staff.

Paul and Dee House founded House in the Woods in the hopes of creating a program that would provide military men and women and their families with a place to escape and experience the outdoors.

“I was lost,” Lawrence McManus said. “It eats away at you.”
read more here

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Bombastic Passengers Booed Gold Star Family Over Flight Delay!

Father Of Slain Stockton Soldier Says Airline Passengers Booed Him On Flight Home
CBS Sacramento
By Steve Large
November 17, 2016

STOCKTON (CBS13) — The father of a slain Stockton soldier is speaking out after he says his family was booed on the flight to bring his son’s body home from Afghanistan.
Sgt. John Perry died on Saturday in Afghanistan by a suicide bomber.

Stewart Perry is a father mourning the loss of a son at a service on Thursday.

“Most importantly, I want people to know about the heroic thing that my son did,” he said.

His son stumbled on the suicide bomber before he could reach his target—a soldiers’ 5K Veterans Day run.

“He would have killed 100, 200, who knows?” he said.

Perry says his son’s death comes comes at a time military service is facing disrespect. He says his family was even booed on the flight to bring his son’s body home over a delay.
read more here

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

What if Capt. Khan's Mom Was Your Mom?

Massachusetts Congressman, Veteran Lashes Out at Donald Trump
Beacon Hill Patch
By Alison Bauter (Patch Staff)
August 2, 2016

"As a veteran, I can't imagine what it would be like if Donald Trump treated my mom that way." Rep. Seth Moulton

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton had harsh words for Trump in light of the GOP nominee's attacks on Gold Star Khan family.

Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton had those and other withering words for Donald Trump Tuesday, joining a bipartisan barrage of condemnation in the wake of the Republican presidential nominee's comments toward a family whose son died serving in Iraq.

Trump has been taking heavy fire since critiquing Khizr and Ghazala Khan, Gold Star parents of Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed while serving in Iraq by a car bomber. Khizr Khan spoke against the GOP nominee at this year's Democratic National Convention, prompting harsh words in return from Trump.

Khan and his wife have both condemned Trump, saying he "knows nothing of sacrifice."
read more here

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Trump Loves War?

Back from being unplugged on mini vacation.  I spent the weekend in New England with family and it was wonderful.  

Back in the real world of politics more unusual than the pitiful garbage being slung on both sides, the only things I cannot hold back on are politicians claiming the trouble with the VA is someone else's fault and a candidate going after a grieving Gold Star Mom.

Donald Trump has a habit of using veterans. We're all used to that since most politicians do it. The thing that got me was when he said that he loves war yet got deferments to stay out of Vietnam. He didn't love it so much back then when his own life would be put in danger.  
It also seems that he cannot even let his pride go for a family who lost their son in combat while saving the lives of others.

Showing a characteristic refusal to back down from a fight, Trump took the almost unthinkable step of publicly escalating a feud with the parents of fallen US solider, Capt. Humayun Khan, who blasted Trump at last week's Democratic convention as unfit for the presidency.
Trump doesn't back down from a fight when it is about him but what kind of a message did this send to those putting their lives on the line everyday for the sake of others if he cannot even put his pride on the line? Yet he wants to be Commander-in-Chief or does he want to be dictator? 

The thing that keeps getting missed is that there we had a hero leader, loving his men so much he was prepared to do whatever he had to do so that they could survive. It didn't matter to him what faith they practiced because they had faith in him and each other.  It did not matter to him how they voted because they were putting each other first.

Too bad it didn't matter to Trump enough to let this Dad say what he wanted to say and let it go simply out of respect for the son who gave his life.  He could not even let this Mom's silence go without saying something about her.

How much do you want to bet that the story would have dropped off the news cycle in a day or so had he simply shown true leadership instead of hot headed ego?

The other thing is there seems to still be a line of politicians hoping folks forget they have been in charge of the way veterans have been treated all along and the mess is actually their fault because they didn't bother to fix any of it.

Read the history of the VA and see what I mean. 

(And on a side note, anyone screaming when this hero was talking is an idiot. We heard enough of that when Vietnam veterans came home. If you cannot at least respect someone like Groberg, who can you respect besides yourself?)


Churchill: Another Muslim soldier's father speaks out against Donald Trump

"Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims," said Khan, whose Army captain son, Humayun Khan, died when he ran to halt a vehicle carrying a suicide bomber, likely saving the lives of troops on guard duty he had told to take cover and those at a mess hall nearby.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Operation Love Letters At Tampa Veterans Memorial Park

Families to honor fallen military in Tampa during Operation Love Letters
Tampa Tribune
By Howard Altman
Tribune Staff
Published: February 12, 2016
“The event provides an atmosphere to create new relationships with other surviving families,” Giddens said. “It is a chance to gain spiritual insight and resilience, and to interact with the Army Reserve community.”
For Yolanda Mercado, the pain of losing her son while he was deployed in Afghanistan more than four years ago is still raw.

That’s why she is looking forward to Operation Love Letters, a commemoration of Americans who died while in service to the country that is being held for the first time in Tampa on Saturday.

“It is important to me because it is to honor our loved ones,” said Mercado, whose son, Army Pvt. Jalfred D. Vaquerano, was 20 when he died from his wounds in December 2011 after being shot in Logar province. “It’s a day to remember the good times we had with them and share it with others.”

Operation Love Letters was created to bring Gold Star families together to remember their loved ones, said Mercado. The families bring their loved ones’ favorite dessert to share with their memories,, she said. They also write letters to them, do crafts as mementos and release balloons “with the hope that it reaches their loved ones,” she said.

The event will be held at the Tampa Veterans Memorial Park and Museum as a collaboration between the Army Reserve Survivor Outreach Services (part of Army Reserve Family Programs), the Army Reserve Medical Command, as well as survivor family members, said Marshall F. Pesta, an Army Reserve spokeswoman.
read more here

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Navy SEAL's 3.1-Mile Swim For SEAL Families

Tampa Bay Frogman Swim benefits Navy SEAL Foundation
Tampa Bay Times
Terry Tomalin
Times Outdoors/Fitness Editor
January 15, 2016
"Nothing can prepare you for that. But that is where he wanted to be. That is what he wanted to do."
Ginny Feeks.

Patrick Feeks, a U.S. Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan, will be honored
by several family members at this year's Tampa Bay Frogman Swim.
(Courtesy of Thomas Feeks)
When most 8-year-old boys played Army in the woods, Patrick Feeks dreamed of being a Navy SEAL. He never wanted to be anything else.

"He was very focused and determined from an early age," said father Thomas Feeks, a retired Navy officer. "He was passionate. … Nothing could stand in his way."

The first time he tried to enlist, the Navy told him that he had failed his eye test. So Feeks shopped until he could find a doctor to correct his vision.

"He tried again and made it," his father recalled. "He sailed through boot camp and then went to (Basic Underwater Demolition)."

Assigned to SEAL Team 3 out of Coronado, Calif., Feeks completed several tours in Iraq before he was deployed to Afghanistan. On Aug. 16, 2012, Feeks was aboard a U.S. military helicopter that crashed during a firefight with insurgents in a remote area of southern Afghanistan. He was 28.
The 3.1-mile swim, one of the largest events of its kind in the world, benefits the Navy SEAL Foundation, a charity that helps the families of SEALS wounded or killed in action.
read more here

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Navy Veteran Swimming 2,552 Miles For Fallen Soldiers

Navy vet swimming 2,552 miles for fallen soldiers
Quad City Times
By Brian Wellner
August 21, 2015
"When someone dies, people say move on and get over it," Ritter said. "In my world, he would want us to remember his life. Part of his life is something he gave. We are the people who can continue to carry that on." Barb Ritter
Navy veteran Chris Ring of Legacies Alive stops to look at the path ahead on Friday near Bettendorf on the Mississippi River. He's in the midst of a 2,552-mile swim along the length of the Mississippi to support Gold Star Families.
For Chris Ring, the best part about swimming the entire length of the Mississippi River is meeting the families of fallen soldiers along the way.

When he reached LeClaire on Thursday after having swam about 700 miles of his 2,552-mile journey, he met his 77th family.

"They keep me going," he said. "I swim to celebrate their lives."

After 10 years in the U.S. Navy, Ring says he wasn't much of a swimmer before agreeing to tackle the Legacies Alive second annual effort to bring awareness to Gold Star Families. This year's effort, called "Swim for their Sacrifice," is being updated on Legacies Alive social media sites.

To prepare, Ring endured four months of rigorous training, including advanced swimming and breathing techniques. Just being in shape wasn't good enough. He said he needed to be in "swimming shape" in order to handle being able to swim 10 to 20 miles a day, six days a week for six months.
Killed in war on terror
The following 28 men and women from the Quad-Cities were killed in action during the war on terror.

Cpl. Bryant J. Luxmore, 25, of New Windsor, Ill., was killed June 10 two months after his deployment to Afghanistan. He was assigned to the Army’s 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
Cpl. Zachary C. Reiff, 22, of Preston, Iowa, died from wounds suffered Nov. 18 in Sangin District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force and was twice injured during deployments.
Pfc. Adam E. Dobereiner, 21, of Moline died Nov. 18, when injured by an improvised explosive device at Kandahar province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 8th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade.
Army Lt. Col. Robert Baldwin, 39, of Eliza, Ill., served in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, Ky. He died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, Sept. 30.
Illinois National Guard Spc. Christopher Talbert, 24, of Galesburg was a medic with the Illinois National Guard 130th Infantry Battalian, died July 7 in a terrorist bombing attack near Shindad, Afghanistan.
Sgt. Justin J. Duffy, 31, a native of Moline, died in Baghdad on June 2 after the vehicle he was driving hit an improvised explosive device.
Cpl. Jason Pautsch, 20, of Davenport was killed April 10 in a suicide bomb attack in Mosul, Iraq. Pautsch was a squadron leader in the Army's 4th Infantry Division.
Sgt. Schuyler B. Patch, 25, of Galva, Ill., died Feb. 24 with three other soldiers in Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle.
Staff Sgt. Nathan M. Cox, 32, of Davenport died Sept. 20 in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, along with another soldier, after suffering injuries when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.
Capt. Joshua E. Steele, 26, of North Henderson, Ill., died June 17 in Panjway, Afghanistan, along with two other soldiers, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle.
Pfc. Michael P. Pittman, 34, of Davenport died June 15 in Baghdad of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device and small arms fire.
Pfc. Robert A. Liggett, 23, a Rock Island High School graduate of Urbana, Ill., died May 29 in Rustamiyah, Iraq, from injuries suffered in a noncombat-related incident.
Spc. David W. Behrle, 20, of Tipton, Iowa, died May 19 in Baghdad, along with five other members of his unit, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle.
Pfc. Katie M. Soenksen, 19, of Davenport died May 2 in Baghdad of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near her vehicle.
Sgt. Michael D. Smith, 41, of Bettendorf died Dec. 18, in Washington, D.C., of injuries he received while serving in Iraq.
Petty Officer 1st Class Jerry A. Tharp, 44, of Aledo, Ill., died July 12 when his dismounted patrol was struck by an explosive device in the Al Anbar province of Iraq.
Petty Officer 1st Class Gary Rovinski, 44, of Roseville, Ill., was killed June 5 when the Humvee he was traveling in was hit by an improvised explosive device in the Al Anbar province.
Army Sgt. Donald Griffith Jr., 29, of Mechanicsville, Iowa, died March 11 in Telefar, Iraq. He served in the 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, based at Fort Lewis, Wash.
Sgt. Jessica M. Housby of Rock Island was killed Feb. 9. She served with the 1644th Transportation Unit, Illinois National Guard, Rock Falls, Ill.
Pfc. Scott M. Tyrrell, 21, of Sterling, Ill., died Nov. 20 of injuries suffered Nov. 14 near Tikrit. He served with the 299th Engineer Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, out of Fort Hood, Texas.
Pfc. Nick Skinner of Davenport was killed Aug. 26. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Unit, Platoon 1023, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Trace W. Dossett of Orlando, Fla., a Wapello, Iowa, native, was killed May 2. He was assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 14 out of Jacksonville, Fla.
Sgt. Landis W. Garrison of Rapids City, Ill., died April 29. He was assigned to the 333rd Military Police Co., Freeport, Ill.
Cpl. Michael R. Speer, a Kansas native who joined the Marine Corps in Davenport, was killed April 9. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Sgt. Aaron Sissel of Tipton, Iowa, was killed Nov. 29 in Iraq. He was assigned to the 2133rd Transportation Company of the Iowa National Guard, based in Centerville, Muscatine and Cedar Rapids.
Sgt. Paul F. Fisher, 39, of Marion, Iowa, died Nov. 6 from injuries suffered in a rocket attack on his helicopter Nov. 2 near Fallujah. Fisher served with Army National Guard Detachment 1, Company F, 106th Aviation Battalion, based in Davenport.
Chief Warrant Officer Bruce A. Smith of West Liberty, Iowa, was killed Nov. 2. He also was assigned to Detachment 1, Company F, 106th Aviation Battalion.
Sgt. Bradley S. Korthaus of Davenport drowned March 24. He was assigned to the Marines 6th Engineer Support Battalion.
For more information about Legacies Alive and to keep up on Chris Ring's progress, go to
read more here

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Navy Vet Swimming the Mississippi To Remember OEF and OIF Fallen

Honor to the lost: Navy vet swimming the Mississippi stops in Camp Ripley
Daily Globe
By Zach Kayser
Jul 7, 2015

“We can’t bring them back,” he said. “But we can honor them.”

Bill Smith of Grey Eagle writes a message honoring his son Paul on a kayak being used to support Navy veteran Chris Ring, left, as he swims the length of the Mississippi to honor families of those killed in conflict. Paul Smith was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Zach Kayers/Brainerd Dispatch

CAMP RIPLEY — A U.S. Navy veteran on a mission to swim the Mississippi stopped at Camp Ripley Tuesday to meet with some of the families his trek aims to honor.

“Gold Star” families have lost a member in military conflict. The name comes from the gold star some display in their homes to symbolize the son or daughter who was killed. Veteran Chris Ring plans to swim the entire length of the river in order to raise awareness for Gold Star families who lost loved ones in post-9/11 conflicts.

On Tuesday, Ring and his support team from nonprofit Legacies Alive paused their journey for a press event with some of the Gold Star families from the nearby area. Ring said his goal with the swim is to be able to walk up to any random person on the street, and have them know what a Gold Star family is. Legacies Alive co-founder Mike Viti said the idea for the group came from conversations with Gold Star families, when he asked them to name a thing they needed help with.

“The thing that most of them pointed to was, ‘The day that I fear the most is the day my loved one’s name isn’t said,’” he said. “Really, their legacy dies with the last memory.”
Bill Smith of Grey Eagle talked about his son, Paul, who received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Paul Smith was a combat engineer when the unit he commanded came under attack near Saddam International Airport. read more here

Thursday, November 6, 2014

When Blue Stars Turn to Gold Tribute To Military Families Sacrifices

RIVERSIDE: Vet's song about military families takes flight
Press Enterprise
Mark Muckenfuss
Staff Writer
November 6, 2014

Blue Stars Turned Gold
Ted Peterson isn’t sure if he’ll be sick or if he’ll shine.

On Thursday, the Riverside resident and fledgling songwriter will be sitting on a White House panel that includes country singer Willie Nelson and hip-hop artist Common. Hosted by Michelle Obama, the group will discuss the role of music in the military.

“I’m ready to vomit I’m so nervous,” said Peterson, 44. “If it was up to me, I would not be up there on that stage.”

He’s on the stage because he wrote “When Blue Stars Turn to Gold,” a country-oriented song about the sacrifice of military families. The song caught some fire on YouTube recently and grabbed the attention of the panel’s organizers. It’s the first song he has composed in his short writing career that has been recorded.

Peterson, who is connected with the Guitars For Vets music therapy group at Loma Linda’s VA Medical Center, doesn’t even play a musical instrument. He came to songwriting in a roundabout way.

A Navy veteran with active duty from 1989-1993 and later the reserves, from 2002-2007, Peterson also worked for 15 years for Camp Pendleton’s base security. Some long-term physical problems caught up with him and he was forced to leave his security job. He had no idea what to do with his life.

“I hit a depression, a pretty bad one,” said Peterson, 44, of Riverside. “A Vietnam veteran who’s a friend of mine pulled me aside and said, ‘What’s going on with you?’ He made me promise that I would go and talk to someone. So I did.”

It may have been the best advice he ever received.
read more here

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fort Campbell Boots Honor Fallen

UPDATE A last-minute outpouring of support for massive memorial project at Fort Campbell ensures every fallen hero since 9/11 – all 7,000 – will be remembered for Military Survivor Appreciation Week
Durbin, an Iraq War veteran, testified Tuesday that he was accosted and shot while sleeping in his car on Allison Hill after giving a fellow soldier a ride home.
Fort Campbell Survivor Outreach Services Honors Fallen Soldiers with Boot Display
Clarksville Online
October 27, 2014
Soldiers with the 551st Military Police Company and 1/506 Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team arrived first thing Friday morning to start setting up the Survivor Outreach Services boot display honoring service members who died in support of the Global War on Terror since Sept. 11, 2001.
(Photo by Nondice Thurman, Fort Campbell Public Affairs Office)

Fort Campbell, KY – In honor of Military Survivor Appreciation Week, formerly known as Gold Star Family Appreciation Week, more than 5,000 boots are on display on the lawn of the 101st Airborne Division Headquarters.

The boots have been collected from military service members across Fort Campbell and abroad to honor service members who died in support of the Global War on Terror since September 11th, 2001.

This display of combat boots honors the memories and sacrifice of the military men and women who gave their lives while serving our country.
read more here

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Michigan Gold Star Family Honors Son's Last Wish Helping Others

Couple Channel Grief Into Retreat for Veterans
Associated Press
Aug 1, 2014


Before shipping out for Iraq, Army Sgt. Trevor Blumberg asked his father to do two things if he didn't return: Look after his puppy, Scrappy, and "take care of my guys."

Blumberg, a 22-year-old paratrooper known to his guys in the storied 82nd Airborne as "Blum," was killed days after deploying by a roadside bomb that tore through his Humvee.

In the decade since, Terry and Jan Blumberg have dutifully honored their son's wishes by using Trevor's death benefits and insurance money to build a 3,500-square-foot house on 12 acres in northern Michigan that doubles as their retirement home and a retreat for those who defend the country. For the past two years, veterans who served post-Sept. 11, 2001, have been welcome to stay for free at the three-bedroom Ocqueoc Township home for up to five days.

"We made a promise to Trevor," Terry Blumberg said.

The Blumbergs, church volunteers and veterans' group members toiled for years to build "Blum's Landing," which is tucked back from a dirt road and nestled among trees, with Orchard Lake around back.

Guests eat, rest and play alongside the Blumbergs and Scrappy, who is now a 12-year-old light brown Staffordshire terrier that follows Terry Blumberg around everywhere with tail wagging.

Terry Blumberg, who fought in the Vietnam War, said the loss of their son is "never going to stop hurting," but he and his wife take satisfaction in knowing they are doing what Trevor would have wanted by hosting those who shared his mission.
read more here

Friday, August 1, 2014

Gold Star Family Feels Betrayed by Marines After Green on Blue Attack

Marine Corps responds to Gold Star family's allegations of 'misleading, offensive' information
Marine Corps Times
By Hope Hodge Seck
Staff Writer
July 31, 2014
Lance Cpl. Greg Buckley Jr.'s father Greg, left, his mother Marina, third from left, and his two brother watch as his casket is carried into St. Agnes Cathedral for his funeral Mass on Aug. 18, 2012, in Rockville Centre, N.Y.
(Mary Altaffer / AP)

The Marine Corps responded in part to a 10-page letter from a Gold Star family that accused the Corps of misleading the public about events in the aftermath of their son’s death.

The family of Lance Cpl. Greg Buckley Jr. learned last week that the Afghan youth who killed their son and two other Marines in an insider attack in Afghanistan was sentenced by an Afghan court to seven years, six months in prison. The family’s attorney, Michael Bowe, fired off the strongly worded letter to Marine Corps commandant Gen. Jim Amos on Tuesday, demanding that the Marine Corps retract a statement on the sentencing of the killer, Ainuddin Khudairaham, and a timeline of communications allegedly made with families of the fallen.

Bowe called the release of the information a “publicity stunt,” saying the media received confirmation of Ainuddin’s sentencing before the families did. He also said the timeline failed to show how little information the families received about the case as it developed.

Marine officials are standing by the information, saying it was released to press outlets following inquiries about the Buckley case.
read more here

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day and a Mother's Loss

Fisher House for Families of the Fallen in Delaware is a place where family members can stay while waiting for the return of their sons, daughters, husbands and wives. It is a place where they can be supported on one of the saddest times in their lives.
A Mother's Loss
For the past 38 years, military service in the United States has been voluntary. As U.S. citizens, we are fortunate to have men and women who, knowing the dangers that may lie ahead, continue to answer the call and proudly serve our nation.

Behind every man and woman at war is a family on the home front. Their support is unconditional, their prayer always the same – a safe return.

Kristofor Stonesifer was one of those brave and committed young people whose life goals included becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. Thirty-eight days after Sept. 11, he was the first killed in action in Operation Enduring Freedom. He and Jonn Edmunds, a fellow Ranger, died on Oct. 19, 2001, in a helicopter crash the first night of major military operation in Afghanistan.

Gold Star Mother Ruth Stonesifer
Ruth Stonesifer, proud Gold Star Mother of Kristofor Stonesifer Kristofor’s mother, Ruth Stonesifer, became the first Operation Enduring Freedom mother to take on the national presidency of the American Gold Star Mothers, which she described as a “wonderful organization none of us ever wanted to become eligible to join but we are grateful to have.”
read more here

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Love Letter Tribute at VFW Post 2093

Salute to our Fallen Soldiers
Orlando, Florida
Sunday, February 23, 2014

Join us in a Salute to our Fallen Soldiers as we honor them through a Love Letter Tribute, Ceremonial Balloon Release, Children's Activities, and Poetry. Gold Star family members will attend this memorable occasion held at a scenic waterfront park. This is the second of its kind event. It will open with a color guard, the 13 folds of the flag presentation, and keynote speaker US Army chaplain. This event is open to all family members and friends of our Fallen Soldiers.
Let's bring our flags and stand a flag line for a Salute to our Fallen Hero's.
Patriot Guard Riders will be there!

Staging will be at the: VFW Post 2093
4444 Edgewater Drive, Orlando, FL 32804

Sunday, October 20, 2013

New documentary Gold Star Children

Gold Star Children, a not for profit organization, was founded in 2008 to raise awareness about American child survivors whose mothers or fathers were killed or died while serving in the United States military. Utilizing film and interactive media, the current goal of Gold Star Children is to distribute the documentary film, “Gold Star Children” to every state in the U.S. and audiences around the world to remind the child survivors of war that they are not alone. The film is intended to draw attention to military families and those impacted by war. But, it is also intended to inspire and help non-military Americans understand, support and get involved with our military families and the children left behind by our fallen warriors.

Gold Star Children is a documentary about child survivors of war casualties, written and directed by Mitty Griffis Mirrer, a gold star child herself. The film is a first-person narrative told through the eyes of a nine-year-old girl, who lost her father in the Iraq war, and the adult-children survivors of the Vietnam War. Gold star children who lost parents serving in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq work together to ensure that all child survivors know they are not alone.

Older survivors reach out to help their young counterparts through mentoring and community events.

The film opens a window on a unique part of the American story – one that has been tragically overlooked, and is happening now.

Together the characters of this film grieve, love and hope. Mirrer weaves together an inspiring narrative about the redemptive power of sharing and the resilience of our nation's Gold Star children, who continue to carry the burden of our country's wars.

Gold Star Children - Trailer from Mitty Griffis Mirrer on Vimeo.