In honor of Gold Star spouses, Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield’s Survivor Outreach Services conducted a special luncheon and recognition ceremony for Gold Star Spouses’ Day, April 5.
The SOS program offers support services to Families of active, Reserve and Army National Guard Soldiers who have passed away. Its mission is to provide support services to Families of the Fallen for however long the Family wishes. The term Gold Star is used for all Family Members of Fallen Soldiers.
The special service commenced its ceremony at Club Stewart’s Ballroom which was followed by a luncheon, presentation of coins then a Dove Release Ceremony at Cottrell Field’s Warrior’s Walk.
For Gold Star Family Member Barbara Newman, the special occasion presented an honorable and touching moment for her.
“I received support from the Army community,” Newman said, whose husband was killed in the Vietnam War. “We were at Fort Benning, Georgia. We had really good support from the Army, but not the civilian communities [then]. For today’s widows, they receive so much more support now than we did during Vietnam.”
Chaplain (Col.) John Molina led the prayer and Dove Release Ceremony at Warrior’s Walk. One-by-one the white doves aviated in sync with each other into the blue sky. “Ever since my husband passed away in 1966, I have been a member of Gold Star wives,” Newman shared. “[When I saw the doves], I was just thinking about the doves going up to see my husband.”
Cheryl Sowell, SOS coordinator, said that the program is here to provide support services for Families and Soldiers of Fallen service members.
“The Fallen Soldier could have died for numerous reasons,” Sowell said. “SOS is here for them regardless of the circumstances."
Hunter’s Deputy Garrison Commander Ernest Tafoya shares that the SOS program extends support to the survivors.
"We care about our military Families at Hunter, and we're committed to supporting those who have lost a Soldier, Airman, Marine or Coast Guardsman while serving this nation,” Tafoya said. "The Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Survivor Outreach Services program does a great job getting the grief counseling and financial counseling to survivors from all services."
For more information about the Fort Stewart SOS Program or Gold Star Families, contact 912-435-9761 or 912-435-9598.