Sergeant C****** will bring me home
He’ll drape the flag over my chest
He’ll tuck me in, he’ll let me rest
He’ll put me in my dress blues
He’ll cut my hair and shine my shoes
He’ll pin my medals upon my chest
He’ll tell my dad I did my best
He’ll tell mama ‘don’t you cry’
When it comes to freedom, men must die…”
These are the words my husband sung while he marched with his flight during Basic Training. He wrote out the entire song and let me read it, I cried- a lot. He said the whole flight did too while they were marching. And as I’m writing this, I know I’m going to cry again.
It is everyones nightmare, something no family wants to experience. Our military men and women know the risks when they sign up, that’s part of what makes them so brave. Spouses have to act brave (even if they don’t feel it at times), they have to hope and pray that their hero will come home. Unfortunately some don’t. Even the ones that do, sometimes take their own lives.
SGT Kristie A. Roberts passed away in 2012. Her mother, Cindy, has become very involved with the American Gold Stars Mothers, Inc. Her and her husband now spend the majority of their time helping other gold star families, and ensuring the memory of their daughter lives on. SGT Roberts was very involved in her community and she served her country in the U.S. Army. One of her mothers biggest fears after her death was that no one would remember her. That surely hasn’t been the case, she lives on through memories of her friends, family, and the community.
Cindy offers advice for other gold star families; find your circle. These will be the group of people that help you get through. You will be able to talk to them, share each others stories, and help each other heal.
“Your circle will be the group of people that don’t need to ask how you’re doing. The people that know that Mother’s Day isn’t happy.”
You’re circle will understand that even years after the loss, you will smell a certain smell- or hear a certain song- and it will bring you to your knees. They will understand if you can’t make it to a party, they will pay attention, they will listen. They will lean on each other and support one another through the toughest of days.
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)
TAPS has resources, grief counseling, mentoring, and helplines for the parents, spouses, significant others, children, siblings, and extended families of the fallen. They also have resources for suicide survivors. Some of the programs include:
- Survivor seminars
- Grief camps and camp outs
- Inner Warrior
- Peer Mentors
- Suicide Survivor
- Team TAPs
Their helpline is 1-800-959-TAPS (8277) and is available 24/7. They have online communities, local care groups, and text services. They will also provide families with a packet of verified local resources.
American Gold Star Mothers, Inc.
The American Gold Star Mothers an organization of women who have lost their son or daughter in the service of our country. They provide a healing community for mothers dealing with the loss of their child. As Cindy Roberts states, “mothers feel differently”. The pain a mother will feel is different than how other family members will feel. It doesn’t mean it’s more, or less pain… it’s just different. Gold Star Mothers help each other through the grieving process. They will also help other family members, wether it be with loss or any other issue. They encourage people to talk about their feelings, and share what is upsetting and frustrating them.
Gold Star Legacy
This website is an amazing resource for Gold Star families. They can provide information on bereavement and grief which includes:
- Dealing with the death of a loved one
- Living with grief
- Helping other grieve
- Helping children grieve
- Other resources like the National Mental Health Association (1-800-969NMHA)
The founder of the site will also help you find support if you need it, all you need to do is call (573) 449-2003. They also have Gold Star Outreach volunteers to help as well.
Military Apparel Company
The company’s fallen hero collection has helped countless people through the grieving process. These creations are made out of the uniforms of the fallen and is beneficial to children, spouses/significant others, and parents.
Products available include:
- Teddy bears
- Blankets (large-adult, medium-kids, small-baby)
“This blanket means so much to us. It doesn’t just offer remembrance of Dylan, it offers hope for healing. It’s as though we still have a part of him with us; a part of him that is holding our daughter when she is wrapped up in the blanket. She will always be able to put it around her and she will be in her daddy’s arms again. We will never be able to thank you enough for creating something so special in memory of Dylan.”
Children don’t always understand grief or what it really means to lose a parent. Unfortunately, at a certain age they just can’t process things the same as older children and adults do, they just know that they want their mom or dad.
“My husband was a SSgt in the USAF He suffered from PTSD and passed away… His death has really effected Chloe (daughter) and though I miss him dearly, I think my daughters ache for her daddy is greater than my ache for my husband… I desperately wanted to find a way to help her but to also give her comfort and a piece of her daddy to hold onto… Giving my children the bears was very emotional and healing at the same time. Chloe knew it came from her daddy’s uniform her face immediately lit up. I know this will help her… the healing these bears are bringing my family is priceless…”
Military Apparel Company takes the responsibility of turning your fallen heroes uniform into a comforting, healing creation that you can keep with you at all times, very seriously. You can learn more by clicking here.
Fallen Heroes Project
This organization provides hand drawn portraits of fallen heroes, free of charge. Each fallen hero will also get a memorial page on the website that contains their portrait, pertinent personal and military service related information and a biography. Loved ones and general public also have the opportunity to leave a memory, comment, or photo.
The artist, Michael Reagan, believes that when he draws a portrait, the fallen’s spirit sits with him in his studio. He has love and respect for the military men and women that he draws and feels very deeply for their loss.
Visit this link to request a portrait and learn more information.
The Collier House provides a safe, comfortable home where families of military members who were killed in active duty can heal from trauma, stress, and grief in their lives. Families come together to rest, reflect, and remember their loved ones.
They provide short term lodging for:
- Families of young adults in recovery
- Gold Star families of military personnel killed in the line of duty
- The family and friends of Collier Barcus
The house was made to honor the sacrifice of Spc. Collier Barcus and the other heres who have given their lives during the War on Terrorism and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
To learn more about the Collier house, click here.
Crisis support services 1-800-309-2131
TAPS 1-800-959-TAPS (8277)
Veterans Crisis Line (VA) 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1)
Army Family Assistance Hotline 1-800-833-6622
National Mental Health Association 1-800-969-NMHA
It’s important to understand the grief process and to know that there are resources out there to help. I am not a gold star family- this article is not written out of personal experience. My hope is to provide resources for those families and to let them know that they are so strong, brave, and most importantly- they are not alone.
R.I.P Kristie A. Roberts, You will never be forgotten.
Fallen Hero Artist Info (Source)
Gold Star Families Info (Source)
Cindy Roberts (Local Gold Star Mother)