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  • 29 Oct 2020 11:04 AM | Membership Office (Administrator)

    Today, on behalf of the Trump Administration and in support of America’s military members and families, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced at the Iowa Gold Star Museum that Gold Star Families and U.S. military veterans will be granted free access to national parks, wildlife refuges and other Federal lands managed by the Department of the Interior starting on Veterans Day (Nov. 11) this year and every day onward.

    “The Trump Administration is committed to honoring American patriots – the men and women who have served in our armed forces,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “With the utmost respect and gratitude, we are granting veterans and Gold Star Families free access to the iconic and treasured lands they fought to protect starting this Veteran’s Day and every single day thereafter.”

    Entrance fees for the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and standard amenity recreation fees for the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Reclamation sites will be waived for veterans and Gold Star Families. They will have free access to approximately 2,000 public locations spread out across more than 400 million acres of public lands, which host activities to fit any lifestyle, from serene to high octane, including hiking, fishing, paddling, biking, hunting, stargazing and climbing.

    “Our veterans and Gold Star Families have made incredible sacrifices to defend our freedoms and our homeland. Ensuring that they are able to enjoy all of the natural wonders of the country that they’ve served is one small way of saying thank you,” said U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (IA). “I’m glad to join Secretary Bernhardt here in Iowa today at the Gold Star Military Museum for this historic announcement.”

    “Our veterans, fallen servicemembers, and their loved ones have made tremendous sacrifices to protect our freedoms, and we are forever grateful for their selfless service to our nation,” said U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (IA), a combat veteran. “I applaud the Trump Administration for giving back to our veterans and Gold Star Families by granting them free access to America’s beautiful national parks and federal lands that our brave men and women in uniform fought to protect.”

    “America’s Gold Star Families have made unimaginable sacrifices for the safety of our country, and we should do everything possible to help them heal,” said U.S. Senator Angus King (ME), Ranking Member of Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks. “America’s public lands are among the most beautiful natural wonders in the world, and their importance to Americans has only grown during the ongoing pandemic. The families of those who’ve lost a loved one in defense of our nation should be able to have access to these treasures free of charge. I’m grateful that today’s order will open these lands, and hopeful that my legislation with Congressman Golden will pass through Congress soon so this initiative will be enacted into law. This is not complicated – it’s simply the right thing to do.”

    "This initiative will provide American Veterans the opportunity to find peace and healing in the outdoors in addition to discovering the beautiful lands that we sacrificed so much to protect,"  said Executive Director Warrior Expeditions Sean Gobin.

    "I would like to express my great appreciation to the Department of the Interior for building on the success of the America the Beautiful - National Parks & Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass for military families and extending the benefit to Gold Star Families and to those who have served in support of our nation, in part, to secure these treasured lands," said Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America CEO Jeremy Butler. "Exposure to outdoor recreation can provide a wide range of mental health benefits, and given our nation's ongoing veteran suicide crisis, this is a welcome step forward using a whole of government approach to improve the lives of veterans." 

    "Wounded and Disabled veterans, indeed all veterans and their families, find peace and personal renewal in nature. The opportunity to enjoy the American jewels of nature-our National Park System - with free entry into these parks will speak volumes regarding our nation's desire to honor American citizens who sign a "blank check made payable to the United States of America for an amount up to and including their life,” said Team River Runner.

     “On behalf of the Iowa Commission of Veterans Affairs, we are very proud to join in on the announcement of free entrance to all National Parks and other Federal lands managed by the Department of the Interior starting on Veterans Day, Nov 11, 2020. This is a huge show of patriotism and honor to our Veteran’s and the Gold Star Families,” said Chair of the Iowa State Commission of Veterans Affairs Elizabeth Ledvina.

    Many Department managed lands have direct connections to the American military, such as frontier forts, Cold War sites, battlefields, national cemeteries, and memorials. These special places pay tribute to our veterans and serve as reminders of their courage and sacrifice throughout the history of our nation, from Minuteman National Historic Park where colonists stood in defense of their rights, to Yellowstone National Park, which was protected from vandalism and poaching by the 1st U.S. Cavalry before the National Park Service was established, to Mount Rushmore where modern warriors attend reenlistment ceremonies. 

    For purposes of this program, a veteran is identified as an individual who has served in the United States Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Reserves, and is able to present one of the following forms of identification:

    • Department of Defense Identification Card

    • Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)

    • Veteran ID Card

    • Veterans designation on a state-issued U.S. driver’s license or identification card

    Gold Star Families are next of kin of a member of the United States Armed Forces who lost his or her life in a “qualifying situation,” such as a war, an international terrorist attack, or a military operation outside of the United States while serving with the United States Armed Forces.

    This Congress, Representative Jared Golden (ME-02) and Representative Rob Wittman (VA-01) with companion legislation from Senators Angus King (I-ME), Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Steve Daines (R-MT), introduced a bipartisan bill to provide Gold Star Families with free access to National Parks and other federally managed public lands. The Department testified on the legislation and in support of access being extended to all veterans and Gold Star Families. Additionally, during the Secretary’s site inspection at Indiana Dunes National Park over the summer, a National Park Service employee suggested to the Secretary that veterans and Gold Star Families should be able to access national parks for free.

    The Interagency America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program already includes a free annual pass for active duty members of the U.S. Military and their dependents. Other free or discounted passes are available for persons with permanent disabilities, fourth grade students, volunteers, and senior citizens age 62 years or older.

    The Department also offers free entrance days for everyone throughout the year to mark days of celebration and commemoration including the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., National Public Lands Day, Veterans Day, and the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act.

    Source: original press release

  • 29 Oct 2020 10:14 AM | Membership Office (Administrator)
    It is open season for Delta Dental - a Gold Star Wives Silver level Sponsor.  Due to COVID, they have had to cut back on in person activities but asked us to share resources with you.  Below are several options for learning more about Delta Dental during this Open Season.
  • 5 Oct 2020 3:35 PM | Maia Stanhope (Administrator)

    Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. member Mrs. Ada McArthur and GSW Las Vegas Valley Chapter President attended the dedication of a Gold Star Families Memorial Garden in Henderson, NV.

    Ada has been a member of Gold Star Wives for approximately 51 years.  Her husband was killed in action in Vietnam over 52 years ago.   She was a 30 year old widow with 3 children ages 6, 8, and 9. 

    Ada started out as a Member at Large in Oregon for 22 years, in Colorado for 17 years, in Nevada from 2008 until 2011 when she became a Charter Member of the Las Vegas Valley Chapter in 2011. 

    Please click the link below to see Mrs. McArthur's interview that was  broadcast by the local Channel 13 News.

    https://www.ktnv.com/positivelylv/henderson-receives-first-gold-star-marker


  • 1 Oct 2020 11:41 AM | Maia Stanhope (Administrator)

    GERALDINE (JERRY) CHITTICK

    During the 2020 Region Teleconference, members voted to make a generous monetary donation to the GSW National Treasury and in memory of Geraldine Chittick, affectionately known as "Jerry” who was a very active Midwest Region Member-at-Large.  The National President, Nancy Menagh, asked me to write an article about Jerry for members who did not know her.  When I joined GSW in 1985 Jerry was the Legislative Chairman, the Midwest Region Treasurer and Editor of the Region Newsletter.  After reading GSW newsletters for years, I finally met Jerry in 1999 when I attended my first region conference. If my memory serves me right, this was the only time that I was in her company because by then she had begun to have health problems.  So, I am sure many members reading this article knew her better than I, but with the assistance of old newsletters and the Internet I will tell you about a very dedicated GSW.

    Geraldine Beisel was born February 22, 1916 in Clinton County, Indiana and graduated from Frankfort High in 1933 as Valedictorian of her class.  After graduation, she attended Northwestern University and was a bookkeeper and store manager for the Community Schools of Frankfort for 31 years, retiring in December 1979.  In 1938, Jerry met James Chittick, a high school teacher and a Reserve Officer, and they were married on June 2, 1940.  James was called to active duty on January 21, 1942.  On June 15, 1944, Jerry gave birth to their son, Michael James Chittick.  On August 8, 1944, her husband James Chittick was killed in France during World War II.

    Jerry joined Gold Star Wives of America in 1946 and was a dedicated member as long as her health permitted.  She attended her first national convention in 1963 and was elected to the Board of Directors in 1964.  Her first appointment was to the Legislative Committee and in 1965 she was appointed National Legislative Chairman and later became Legislative Advisor.  As the National Legislative Chairman, Jerry successfully lobbied Congress for increases in Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefits and was instrumental in getting a Federal Charter granted to Gold Star Wives. 

    Jerry served as National Vice-President 1966-1967, and in 1968 was the first Member-at-Large to be elected as National President.  As National President, she took up the long fight for the GSW Federal Charter that other National Presidents had started.  In February 1969, Jerry and Edith Knowles, Legislative Chairman, visited Indiana Senator Birch Bayh to request sponsorship of the charter legislation.  On May 17, 1979 – Senate Bill 1179 was introduced by Senators Bayh, Morgan, Stewart and Thurmond.  On November 16, 1979 before the 96th Congress, Senate Bayh introduced Geraldine as a “forceful advocate” for Gold Star Wives of America and Jerry, Edith Knowles and Peggy Simonfy testified before Congress seeking support for Senate Bill 1179.  In addition, during the Women’s Forum March 25-28, 1980, 15 GSW members called on over 300 Congressional offices seeking co-sponsors.  Finally, on December 4, 1980 a Federal Charter, signed by President Carter, was granted to Gold Star Wives of America. 

    In addition to national positions, Jerry served as the Midwest Region President in 1972-1973, 1981-1982, 1993-1994 and 1997 and was the Region Treasurer over 20 years.  In 1975, she was the first recipient of the GSW Special Recognition Award.  This award is given to an active member in good standing who has worked at any level going above and beyond the normal requirements of the position held.  Jerry was the recipient of this award again in 1993.

    Jerry was also very active in her community:  A member of the First Presbyterian Church, where she edited the Scroll, life member of the Order of the Eastern Star Chapter No. 448 of Rossville, Illinois, charter member of the A. J. Foyt Fan Club of Richmond, Indiana, member Phi Beta Psi Sorority, Sigma Chapter, member of the National Association of Retired Teachers Association, and Friends of the Frankfort Public Library.

    In early 1991 Jerry had a stroke and after a short recovery period; she continued her dedication to Gold Star Wives serving on the Board of Directors and continuing as Region Treasurer and Newsletter Editor.  In the May 1991 Midwest Region newsletter, she wrote: “Regretfully, no member came forward to take these positions; so, I continue to do what I can get done under a great handicap that I hope and pray will not always be this way.  I am doing my best until other arrangements can be made.  Whatever arrangements are made for collection of next year’s dues, I ask each of you for your fullest cooperation in keeping our GSW membership at 100%.”   Jerry remained Region Treasurer until the 1999 Region Conference when Member-at-Large Ellen Pyle was elected and installed as Region Treasurer.  Sometime later Jerry was overtaken by other health problems and had to move to a nursing home. 

    Geraldine (Jerry) Chittick entered eternal rest on December 11, 2002 in Frankfort, Indiana and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia on December 30, 2002.  Her burial was attended by GSW members, Rose Lee, Potomac Chapter, Josephine Duncan, Midwest Member-at-Large, and John Brennan, GSW Washington Liaison.  A GSW wreath was placed at her grave site. 

    I am glad Nancy asked me to write this article because it gave me the opportunity to learn more about this remarkable person.  During my research, I also learned that Jerry’s son, Michael James Chittick, passed away in Manlius, New York on January 8, 2014.  He was survived by his wife Carol; his son James (Michele) and granddaughters, Sarah and Olivia.

    Madie Tillman 
    Midwest Region President


  • 29 Sep 2020 11:42 AM | Maia Stanhope (Administrator)

    Please click the link to read President Trump's Proclamation on Gold Star Mother's and Family's Day: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-gold-star-mothers-familys-day-2020/

  • 25 Sep 2020 4:06 PM | Maia Stanhope (Administrator)

    Gold Star Wife, Kris Rystrom Emmert of Tennessee offers support to Gold Star Families through friendship and understanding. She is the author of Providing Promise: A Navy Widow's Journey to Hope. 

    ABC 6 in Knoxville recently did a feature on Mrs. Emmert. Please click here to read the article and/ or watch the piece.

    This Saturday, September 26th, 2020, from 2-5 P.M. EDT, Kris Rystrom Emmert is hosting her book launch and honoring Gold Star Mothers and Families. She will have signed copies of her publication available for purchase. The ABC 6 article link provides the RSVP details, location and address for tomorrow's event. 

  • 18 Sep 2020 3:41 PM | Maia Stanhope (Administrator)

    Please click the link below to read Mrs. Patricia Barbee's article in the Savannah Tribune. In her piece, she details how she met her late husband, USMC Sgt. John W. Barbee, and explains what it means to be a Gold Star Wife. 

    https://www.savannahtribune.com/articles/gold-star-what/


  • 28 Aug 2020 12:38 PM | Membership Office (Administrator)

    Raina Taylor, President of the Capitol View Chapter, participates in this patriotic video for Vietnam Veterans.

  • 5 Aug 2020 12:18 PM | Maia Stanhope (Administrator)

    The fate of Flying Tiger Line Flight 739 has been shrouded in mystery for almost sixty years. In the late winter of 1962, the U.S. Military airliner exploded over and disappeared in the Pacific Ocean. There were no survivors, and the servicemen’s families were not given the option of having their loved one’s names included on the Vietnam Memorial Wall. On board was Army Sergeant Ranger John Karibo of Ohio. His widow, Gold Star Wife Tonya Wagner, and daughter, Kimberly Steinman-Elmquist, continue to honor his memory and fight for the recognition of those on board. To read more about their efforts and a memorial planned for later this year, please click here: http://carmichaeltimes.com/articles/2020/0730-Disappearance-Still-A-Mystery/index.php?ID=8591 . 

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Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. is a non-profit 501(C)4 National Military Widow/Widowers Service Organization chartered by the United States Congress. Donations are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes but may be deductible as trade or business expenses. Copyright © 2021.

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