by Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris
99th Regional Support Command
As thousands gathered here Dec. 15 to hear President Barack Obama thank troops for their service and sacrifice, one small group sat just off stage to the president’s right, listening intently as he spoke.
These Gold Star Families were all-too familiar with the theme of the president’s remarks, for they and their loved ones have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the nation.
“There are people here who have lost really good friends – patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice – including 54 fallen heroes from this base who we will honor forever,” Obama said. “We have some spouses and families here today – your wives, your husbands, your partners, your sons, your daughters – they serve as well, they make their own sacrifices, especially when you’re deployed.
“Our military families are the heroes on the home front,” he added.
The Gold Star Families were hosted at the event by New Jersey Survivor Outreach Services, consisting of personnel from the Army Reserve’s 99th Regional Support Command, New Jersey National Guard and Army Support Activity-Dix.
“Many of our brothers- and sisters-in-arms have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedoms,” said Maj. Gen. Margaret W. Boor, commanding general of the 99th RSC. “To our survivors, I say, ‘You have my utmost respect for what your family has given this nation, my sincere sorrow for the losses you have endured and continue to endure, and my unwavering commitment to ensure you are always cared for as part of our extended military family.'”
Prior to the event, the Gold Star Family members had the chance to meet and speak with Boor and Maj. Gen. Rick Martin, commanding general of the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center here. Following this meet and greet at the 99th RSC headquarters here, the survivors were escorted to a Navy hangar on base for the president’s address.
“I felt it was a great honor to have the opportunity to be able to attend an event where the president of the United States was honoring all branches of service members for their sacrifice, as well as honoring the family members,” said Darlene Hemingway whose husband, Army Staff Sgt. Terry Wayne Hemingway, died April 10, 2003 while serving in Iraq.
SOS provides extended financial-counseling assistance and long-term support to surviving Family members, ensuring that surviving families’ concerns are addressed to the fullest extent available. The program also ensures survivors receive all benefits to which they are entitled and encourages survivors to remain an integral part of the Army family for as long as they desire.
For more information on the New Jersey SOS program, call 609-562-7892 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.