What is a Gold Star Family?
The Gold Star title is for families of military members who have died while in the line of duty, according to the USO. The title is meant to honor the service member's sacrifice while also acknowledging the family's loss.
The phrase goes back to World War I, when military families displayed service flags that featured a blue star for every immediate family member serving in the Armed Forces.
The blue star would change to gold if the family lost a loved one in the war, hence the term Gold Star Family.
American Gold Star Mothers was founded in 1928 by Grace Darling and 25 other mothers to help keep the memory of deceased service members alive.
The foundation is located in Washington D.C. and is still in operation today.
The Gold Star Wives of America was created in 1945 and the Department of Defense created the Gold Star Lapel Pin in the same year.
The lapel pin features a star on a purple circular background and can only be worn by the immediate family of service members killed in combat.
A similar pin was created in 1973. It is called the Next of Kin Deceased Personnel Lapel Pin, and it's for family members of service members who lost their lives while serving, but didn't die in combat.
Resources for Gold Star Families
The Department of Defense has a Casualty Assistance Program for families that help understand all benefits and other forms of assistance they may need.
Assistance is available to the primary next of kin, which is typically the spouse or the service member's parents.
The program provides help for families of service members who are duty status whereabouts unknown, excused absence — whereabouts unknown, missing, ill, injured or deceased and includes:
- Transportation and burial expenses
- Injury, mortuary and funeral honors assistance
- Benefits and entitlements
- Personal effects, records, reports and investigations
- Legal matters and relocation assistance
- Benevolent, philanthropic and federal agencies
- Emotional and spiritual support
A casualty assistance office is assigned to help the family for an indefinite period of time until the family determines assistance is no longer needed.
Military One Source has a full list of different resources on its website.
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