PSAs raise awareness of Gold Star and Next-of-Kin lapel pins

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - This year, the U.S. Army?'s Installation Management Command, or IMCOM, launched an awareness campaign aimed to educate Americans about Gold Star and Next-of-Kin lapel pins. Over the course of the year, the Army will release several public service announcements, or PSAs, to increase awareness.

The Department of Defense gives Gold Star pins to surviving Family members of Soldiers who died while serving the nation.

FOX Sports has agreed to enter into a year-long partnership with the Army to help promote the overall Gold Star Education Campaign. The first PSA aired Feb. 2 during the Super Bowl XLVIII pre-game show.

The PSAs, called ?"Unsung Heroes" were produced with assistance from the Army?'s Survivor Outreach Services, or SOS program, and features stories from real survivors.

Gold Star mother Donna Robinson, from Baltimore, said she is very happy to hear that the PSA aired during a program with such high visibility. She said she hopes more people will learn about Gold Star Family members as a result of this campaign.

Her son, Staff Sgt. Damion Campbell, 23, was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2005.

Robinson became active with the American Gold Star Mothers Maryland Chapter about two years after her son passed away. She said meeting other Gold Star Family members and volunteering for the military community helped with the grieving process.

?"I wear my Gold Star pin for my son and all Soldiers who have passed," she said. ?"When people ask me about my pin, it does not bother me because it gives me a chance to tell them about Gold Star mothers and about my son. I don?'t want my son to be forgotten. He loved the military too much to be forgotten."

Philip Warman, from Havre de Grace, participated in the PSA to honor his wife, Lt. Col. Juanita Warman, who was killed during the Fort Hood, Texas, shooting on Nov. 5, 2009. Warman currently serves on a council that addresses survivor concerns to the Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno.

?"As a survivor, I found that many people do not know what the Gold Star represents," he said. ?"Even some members of the military community are not aware."

Warman said he wears the Gold Star pin to honor the sacrifice his wife made while she was protecting her country.

?"It symbolizes what was given for liberty and for freedom," Warman said in the PSA.

APG SOS Coordinator Annette Sanders, from Army Community Service, said she can help eligible Family members apply for a new or replacement lapel pin. Eligible Family members can also fill out a form on the National Archives website, www.archives.gov/veterans/replace-medals.html.

SOS is a holistic and multi-agency approach to delivering services by providing access at communities closest to where Families live. SOS came to APG in 2009 and serves Families in Maryland and Delaware. The program links Survivors with grief counselors, financial counselors, benefit coordinators and more.

Services are provided to all survivors. Spouses, children, parents, siblings and friends who are grieving the loss of a Soldier are eligible to receive services, regardless of how the Soldier died. All Army active duty, National Guard, Reserve component and other military branch survivors are eligible for SOS services. The Army is the only military branch with a dedicated program for Survivors.

For more information about Gold Star pins and to view the PSAs, visit www.goldstarpins.org. To find out more about the SOS program, contact Sanders at 410-278-2861 or casandra.a.sanders-nash.civ.@mail.mil.

Page last updated Wed March 5th, 2014 at 00:00