KUSA - It is a pain so deep, that sometimes it goes unspoken, the pain of losing a child. Parents of military members who died in service experience that grief while balancing it with the pride they feel for their sons and daughters who served their country.
Often, these parents are left alone in their grief. But one organization wants to make sure that Gold Star parents are supported and honored.
The Gold Star Project of Colorado began as the Blue Star Mothers of Durango. They secured their 501(c)(3) designation to become a non-profit organization known as the Gold Star Project of Colorado.
“Our mission is to support and encourage the Gold Star Parents in Colorado and has branched out to a couple of the surrounding states as well,” said Janna Schaefer, who is also a Gold Star wife.
She lost her husband, an Air Force veteran, in 1993.
“We honor the parents of our Fallen Heroes and pay tribute to the Fallen Heroes they raised,” said Schaefer. “We honor them no matter how their child died, be it KIA (killed in action), accident, illness or suicide.”
One way the group helps parents is by holding the annual Gold Star Parents weekend. This is the 13th year of the retreat, which will be held in October in Glenwood Springs. The event includes workshops and guest speakers over a two-night stay. All expenses are covered for Gold Star parents.
One of the non-profit’s biggest efforts has been to inform Gold Star families that this type of support is available.
“Our hardest part is finding the families to be able to tell them about the weekend,” said Schaefer,
They also need support from the community to continue making the Gold Star Parents weekend possible. Those wishing to help can donate at www.coloradogoldstarparentsweekend.com.
To help raise funds, the Gold Star Project of Colorado does letter-writing campaigns and an annual poker run. This year’s run will be held Sunday, July 29 at the Adamson-Warmuth VFW #6624 in Evans.
More information is available on the group’s Facebook page.
For many of the volunteers, it’s a very personal effort to honor America’s heroes and their parents.
“I believe there are so many (service members) who have returned home and died from illness or suicide,” said Schaefer. “We'd like to reach their parents and support them as best we can.”