After The Folded Flag: Memorial Day and Gold Star Families

A stoic widow graciously accepting the folded flag makes a dramatic end to a movie, but what comes after?

For the thousands of family members of Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and thousands more from previous wars, Memorial Day is so much more than the kick off to summer cook out season or a chance to hit the big sales. (Gold Star families lost husbands, wives, children, parents, brothers or sisters)

On a day for “cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead” (Logan’s General Order No.11, May 5, 1868) consider the tremendous cost to families.

For the roughly 3,500 military spouses of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan; these are a few of the major life changes they and their kids have to go through when there is no more soldier:

*They have to move out of military housing. (What if you unexpectedly lost your housing?)

*They will receive a death benefit and life insurance but it may take months. In the meantime, chances are good the soldier was the main breadwinner, especially when you consider that frequent deployments and moves make it difficult for a spouse to work. (Have you planned for the unexpected death of your spouse? Do you have 3 months of financial cushion until any insurance or benefits are worked out?)

*There is a good chance a spouse may not have been able to further their education  or employ-ability and now they must make a move,  find a job, and put health benefits into place before all of their military benefits are phased out. (Imagine this while raising several children, facing overwhelming grief and having to scramble to meet your families basic needs.)

*They will have to get up the next day, and the day after, and all the days after knowing their spouse died a traumatic death; wondering, hoping, and praying that they didn’t suffer. They will wonder all of those days; what comes next? (Most are young, facing a lifetime without the person they planned to spend it with)

Living with loss isn’t easy for anyone and these are only a few of the special challenges Gold Star families must deal with.

Monday, May 29 at 3 pm we have the opportunity to take a moment of silence and contemplate the cost of war to families.

And to help make the digital campaign a success as well.            #GoSilent

Then; even if you don’t know a Gold Star family that is struggling personally these sites give opportunities to help:

About Frances Wiedenhoeft

After a lifetime in nursing, anesthesia and the Army I now write, blog, attend school for journalism and massage, and watch my 3 grandchildren. I am a veteran of Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan and try to serve other vets such as myself, and to work for peace.
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