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For the Gold Stars in the Windows on this Memorial Day

Kristina Boling-Smith, MSW, LSW
Veterans Services Coordinator of the Veterans Initiatives Unit Behavioral Health & Justice Related Services Division

On Memorial Day, many of us will be off from work, spending time with loved ones, but let us not forget what it signifies– a day of remembrance for those service members who defended our country and paid the ultimate price.

And, let us always remember those family members wearing the gold star and Next of Kin Pins and/or those displaying the Gold Star Service Flag. Behind the pins or flag lie stories of Fallen Soldiers and Strong Survivors.

Memorial Day is about honoring not only fallen soldiers but also their families, as so eloquently stated in the Congressional Record,“The world should know of those who give so much for liberty. The dearest thing in all the world to a father and mother – their children.”

As we unite on Memorial Day, it’s important that we not only focus on those who fought in combat but also the family members, many of whom are still fighting the emotional wounds of war. There are many things we can do to support our military service members’ families and their providers. Below are local and national resources to help support families here in Philadelphia – and nationwide. We encourage you to please share and help us add to this list.

 

  • Vet Centers, with four locations (Center City, Northeast Philadelphia, Montgomery County, and Bucks County), provides free grief counseling to family members (spouse, parent, family member, or child) who have lost a loved one through illness, accident, or combat while serving on active duty. Contact them at 215-627-0238 or at the 801 Arch Street location for an initial intake appointment.
  • Council for Relationships’ Operation Home & Healing has retreats, counseling services specific to veterans and families available on a sliding scale, and free groups throughout the year in the Philadelphia and surrounding areas. Contact them at 215- 382-6680 for an initial intake or fill out their online form for them to contact you.
  • The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) is available 24/7 for families to call at 800-959-8277. They have weekend retreats to connect with other families and offer resources and information for providers.
  • Military OneSource offers specific guidance for military spouses and family members, from organizations, military benefits, and health insurance to service organizations, and other resources.
  • Network of Care offers numerous veteran organizations and services to assist not only with bereavement, but whatever you need moving forward.
  • Feeling like you may be experiencing more than grief? The Healthy Minds Philly online screening is available 24/7 or find a community screening event on the HealthyMindsPhilly.org event Calendar.
  • For a full list of organizations and a guide to utilize during your time of loss, The Days Ahead provides information on who to contact, including the Veterans Benefits Administration.

Families of Service Members are more than Gold Stars in the window on Memorial Day. They are essential citizens, beloved residents, and part of our Philadelphia family in need of support every day moving forward.  Without their sacrifice, we would not have our veterans.

On this Memorial Day – and throughout the year – let us take time to recognize, respect and honor all surviving family members for their resilient spirit.

To learn more about the Veteran Initiatives Unit, follow us on twitter at @BHJRSD_Veterans

The Veterans Initiative Unit is part of the Behavioral Health & Justice Related Services Division. With a Veterans First approach, we focus on trauma informed care and provide treatment collaboration within the forensic system regardless of discharge, length of service or VA eligibility.

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