By Ms. Brittany Nelson (IMCOM)September 27, 2019
Gold Star mothers and families can heal, grieve and honor their late service member through the Gold Star community.
A Gold Star family or mother is someone whose family member has passed away while serving in the military. Every year Gold Star Mother's and Family's day is observed on the last Sunday in September. The day has been observed since 1936 when the 74th United States Congress designated it.
Laura Braden's son, Capt. Jeffery Braden, passed away while serving in the Air Force, and she is a Gold Star mom. She regularly participates and volunteers at her local American Gold Star Moms chapter.
"I have a way of channeling my grief and doing something good in the name of Jeff," said Braden. "Our common tragedy, of losing our children who have served in the military, has forever joined us together in this 'club', a club that no one ever wants to join."
Braden's son was an F-22 pilot stationed in Guam when he passed away. His mother describes him as an outdoors lover with a great sense of humor.
"I am so proud of him for representing our country," said Braden. "We were so blessed as a family to have him with us for 28 years and I tell his story to honor him and keep his memory alive."
Braden's husband and daughter are also involved in the Gold Star community through volunteer work. Braden has helped with socials at Veterans Affairs hospitals and most recently served at a 75th D-Day anniversary remembrance ceremony.
Linda Rice, who lost her son, Sgt. Wesley Rice, a United States Marine, also volunteered at the D-Day remembrance event.
"I am volunteering to let others know there is another day, there is hope," said Rice. "Life will never be normal because I lost my child but I want to make people aware that there is help and you can meet with others who know how you feel and what you are going through."
Rice said that her son joined the Marines in 2005 because 9/11 inspired him to serve.
"He loved serving," said Rice. "He told me, 'Mom all of these guys here are my brothers.' They form a bond and he felt very connected."
Rice has met some of her son's battle buddies and has stayed connected with them as well as the Gold Star community.
As Rice spoke about her son, the clouds outside the interview area shifted and sunshine flooded onto the table.
"I tell my son's story because his life mattered, and his service to his country mattered, he counts," said Rice.
Patricia Sanchez talks about her late son and his story because she wants to end the stigma of suicide.
"I want to let people know that suicide has no real face," said Sanchez. "Depression is a disease that is not always visible. I want to give Tyler a voice, his life light, and his death purpose."
Sanchez's son, Pfc. Tyler Gorentz, was a combat engineer in the Army. Gorentz was stationed in Germany when he passed.
"Ever since he was little he would always say he was going to be a Soldier," said Sanchez. "I come from a family of service men so he was always well supported in his decision."
When her work life slows down, Sanchez wants to participate in the Gold Star community.
"I hope I will connect with individuals that will understand the new me and help me learn to walk and live again," said Sanchez. "I will strive to be someone's backbone in the future. I want to be strong again."
Gorentz's wife, Nayelly, and his mother-in-law also participated in the D-Day remembrance event.
As Rice and Braden said, no one wants to be a member of the Gold Star community but it has helped them heal and honor their children.
To learn more about the Gold Star community visit www.army.mil/goldstar