Soaring Eagle Blue Star Mom’s Joan Schmidt, Joanne Darlington and Berva Treat load up Care Packages last July at Operation Care Package sponsored by Gold Country Red Cross at Roseville Auto Mall. Photo submitted

Blue Star Moms make a difference for troops and families

Learning one’s child has enlisted in the military can be a source of pride, but for many families the terminology and traditions of the military are new territory and the journey can be fraught with fear and confusion. Our local chapter of Blue Star Moms can help.

Blue Star Moms was originally founded in 1942 after the Flint News Advertiser printed a coupon asking Mothers of serviceman to return the coupon after filling it out.

Over a thousand responses were received, prompting Captain George H. Maines to recommend that a permanent organization be formed. Maines even acted as chair of the first official meeting.

These women volunteered throughout World War II, working in hospitals, train stations and stocking care packages. And, according to Blue Star Mothers of America’s website, they were even a working part of homeland security during times of war.

Today, Blue Star Moms continue to support active military troops, volunteer with individual veterans and in veteran hospitals. Plus, they help with medical supplies, transportation, food, and clothing.

Blue Star Moms also provide emotional support to its members spreading friendship, love and gratitude while simultaneously fostering a sense of patriotism and respect for members of the armed forces.

Blue Star Mom, Edie Melson explains: “I remember how I felt when I discovered there was an organization for mothers whose children were serving in the military. Our son had just announced his decision to enlist instead of going to college and because I had never had anyone close to me who served in the military, I was at a loss about how to support him.

As proud as I was that he wanted to serve, I was terrified of what that service might cost. I needed a safe place to process my feelings. Even more, I needed some answers to the hard questions that were rocketing around my head.”

Susanville’s Soaring Eagle Blue Star Mom’s are a rich resource of information to guide and support military families in our community who are struggling with the transition.

One way our local chapter has accomplished this is by providing a welcome packet filled with advice regarding issues such as preparing for your child’s graduation from basic training/boot camp and tips for staying on base.

There is also a note taker with prompts about details to record or questions to ask in the event one receives an emergency call regarding their enlisted family member. Plus, information about the Red Cross or deployment. Blue Star Mothers of America’s has even compiled a Guide to Post Traumatic Stress & Traumatic Brain Injury.

Local chapter founder, Christine Boyd has been a Blue Star Mom for just over a decade. Boyd shared this about the experience, “ At one point, I learned my son was standing mere feet in front of his fellow Marine buddy when his friend was shot and killed by a sniper and the support of other mothers whose children had endured similar close calls created a bond which became my lifeline.

Even with that support each person processes the stress differently. You have some who refuse to watch the news and others who crave every bit of information.”

That being said, I also talk to parents whose children haven’t even departed for boot camp/basic training and they are teary-eyed at the prospect of the future. Us veteran moms, get it: they are distressed about the upcoming separation and the prospect of the unknown.”

Which is why I highly recommend attending a meeting or joining as soon as your child enlists. We try to introduce new members to other families who have children in the same branch and we have members who have been there and understand. As with most things, the more prepared you are the better you will weather the changes.”

Membership doesn’t equal obligation. Some moms join to show support and might only choose to participate in filling care packages or attend an occasional meeting.

Conversely, you don’t have to be a member to help strengthen our local chapter. There are a variety of ways to show support. Of course, cash donations are always welcome and can be specified to contribute for specific allotment such as supporting honor flights.

Soaring Eagle Blue Star Mom’s have sent numerous veteran’s to our Nation’s Capital and the thousand dollars associated with the trip is raised by membership fees and fund raising efforts.

Incidentals involved in banner displays or care packages are another expense which never ends and our local chapter is reliant upon community support to keep these efforts going.

There are specific fundraisers for certain activities. Such as the Candy sale: proceeds from the candy sale go toward funding a trip for Blue Star Moms to attend a yearly national convention. Raffle tickets at the races are another convention fundraiser.

Berva Treat explains, “It is chartered in our organization that we send delegates to convention. We encourage everyone to try and go, it’s a wonderful experience.” Treat lamented, “At a cost of a thousand dollars per person it can be prohibitive for most people.” Multiple fund raising efforts help to offset the cost for attendees.

Care Packages are a piece of home and a reminder many are thinking of our overseas troops. Items needed for Care Packages include (but are not limited to): ankle socks, boot socks, work gloves, AAA batteries and cozy shower towels, coffee, jerky, snack bars, canned nuts, lip balm, and deodorant. Family favorites like Girl Scout cookies or Boy Scout popcorn can truly bring a taste of home.

Commanding officers in the field will often contact Blue Star Moms about a young man or woman who is not receiving any boxes or letters from home. Contributing creature comforts to this project can truly ease loneliness for our sons and daughters.

All donations are fully tax deductible under the 501(c)3 IRS status. Specify that your donation is intended for care package supplies/postage to ensure your contributions are allotted to this effort.

Ande Nimmo, mother of two daughters who are currently serving our country adds, “ I didn’t realize that a piece of my heart would be ripped out when my child enlisted and its something most people just don’t understand. It’s not the same as sending a child away to college and even my husband who is a Marine doesn’t quite get that. It is healing to talk to others who are going through the same thing. Blue Star Mom’s is more than a support group — it is a sisterhood.”

Call Joanne Darlington 249-0453 or email Berva Treat [email protected],   regarding membership.