Gold Star Wives of America (GSW) resonate a heartfelt sorrow to all the heroes who lost their lives from the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center New York City, the Pentagon, and at the Shanksville, Pennsylvania site. GSW recognized that twenty years ago today, the lives for many families were changed forever. The devastation of the series of terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, left many family members without their loved ones.
As a result of the Global War on Terrorism, including Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, the GSW membership grew with many new surviving spouses. To adjust with these membership demographics, new chapters were created to appeal to the younger post- 9-11 surviving spouses, such as the virtual Arlington Gold Star Wives Chapter.
Originally called “WWII Widows,” GSW was organized in 1945 in New York City. It later became federally chartered as the Gold Star Wives of America, Inc., with Eleanor Roosevelt as an original chartered member. Today there are 33 chapters located throughout the United States.
Since 1945, GSW has been effective advocate for military surviving spouses. After 9-11 GSW became even more visible to assure military surviving spouses’ voices were heard. Congress asked GSW representatives to testify numerous times, to communicate the needs of survivors during the current conflict. Military survivor benefits are complex, which created some challenges for many of the survivors to receive their benefits as designed. The organization often contended with legislation that adversely affected families, as survivor benefit laws had changed.
After 9-11, GSW successfully championed the creation of the Veteran Affairs (VA) Office of Survivors, which allowed for direct communications with the VA. GSW also became an active participant in the VA/ Department of Defense forum. GSW collaborated with Disabled American Veterans in the win of the “Sharp Case” remarriage law, forcing DoD to comply. GSW was in the initial vanguard contributing to the correction of the “Widow’s Tax.” These were just some of many changes and improvements GSW has advocated since 9-11.
The Gold Star Wives of America offers membership to all who meet the criteria (widows of those who died on active duty or as the result of a service-connected disability after leaving the military).For more information contact www.goldstarwives.org or call 888-751-6350.Dr. Vivianne Cisneros Wersel
Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. Public Relations