USA — Senate Resolution Designates Gold Star Wives Day

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7, 2010 — For the first time, Amer­i­ca offi­cial­ly rec­og­nizes the con­tri­bu­tions and ded­i­ca­tion of mil­i­tary wid­ows with ”Gold Star Wives Day.”
A Sen­ate res­o­lu­tion des­ig­nates Dec. 18, 2010, as a day to hon­or and rec­og­nize the con­tri­bu­tions of the mem­bers of the Gold Star Wives of Amer­i­ca Inc.

The group, with about 10,000 mem­bers, pro­vides ser­vice, sup­port and friend­ship to the wid­ows and wid­ow­ers of mil­i­tary per­son­nel who died on active duty or as the result of a ser­vice-con­nect­ed cause.

“This is the first year we’ve had a Gold Star Wives day. It’s some­thing that our gov­ern­ment rela­tions com­mit­tee has been work­ing on,” said Kit Fraz­er, pres­i­dent, Gold Star Wives of Amer­i­ca Inc. “It’s nation­al recog­ni­tion for the orga­ni­za­tion, which is won­der­ful. It’s some­thing very spe­cial to us.”

Frazer’s hus­band was an Army heli­copter pilot and was killed in Thai­land dur­ing the Viet­nam War. She said the orga­ni­za­tion rep­re­sents mil­i­tary wid­ows from every war since World War II.

Vivianne Wersel serves as the chair­man of the Gold Star Wives gov­ern­ment rela­tions com­mit­tee. Her hus­band, Marine Lt. Col. Rich Wersel, died Feb 4, 2005. She said she hopes the obser­va­tion brings aware­ness to the efforts of the Gold Star Wives.

“Part of it is pub­lic aware­ness, that the orga­ni­za­tion does exist and has exist­ed since 1945, and the only time when we are real­ly in the eye of the pub­lic is when we are on (Capi­tol Hill),” she said.

One of the issues Wersel said the Gold Star Wives would like to bring atten­tion to is how wid­ows receive ben­e­fits after the deaths of their hus­bands — in par­tic­u­lar, how depen­den­cy and indem­ni­ty com­pen­sa­tion from the Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Affairs affects a survivor’s pay­ments from the Sur­vivors Ben­e­fit Plan.

Wersel said some are con­fused by what the orga­ni­za­tion is work­ing for when they ask that the rules gov­ern­ing ben­e­fits be changed. She said it helps to under­stand that a mil­i­tary wife often gives up a chance to earn her own retire­ment ben­e­fits when she agrees to move with their husband’s mil­i­tary career.

“When you are a spouse and you have to move ten times to ten states in ten years you don’t get your own retire­ment,” she said. “Your retire­ment is a team retire­ment.” She said one of the things Gold Star Wives of Amer­i­ca Inc., works for is to bring atten­tion to that issues, and she hopes the obser­va­tion on Dec. 18 will bring atten­tion to that effort.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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