Only a small portion of the population can identify with what Jo Sprinkle and Dorothy Wingard have had to go through. Every day, they had to worry about the safety of their child, wondering about such dangers as a land mine or improvised explosive device threatening their child’s life.
Or Susan McElfish, who has had children serve in the military, and knows the pain of losing a family member in Afghanistan. They all come together as part of the organization, Sierra Nevada Blue Star Mothers, Chapter 2 to provide each other with support.
The group is a chapter of the National Blue Stars organization and has 36 members. About 12 to 15 of the members meet monthly at Grandma Hattie’s.
Blue Star Mothers of America is a non-partisan, non-political, non-sectarian organization who doesn’t support any political candidate or religious organization. The group includes mothers, stepmothers, grandmothers, foster mothers and female legal guardians who have children serving in the military, National Guard or reserves, or are veterans.
Whether it’s mothers just dealing with their children going to boot camp to serving in combat to leaving the service — or in the case of Sprinkle, Wingard and McElfish — those who have dealt with all those situations — Blue Star Mothers is a place where they can go and support each other.
Or as Wingard put it when talking about their children, “we talk about how they’re doing and where they’re at.”
And Sprinkle put it this way: “You can laugh, you can cry, you can share with somebody who understands what you’re going through.”
Sprinkle’s son, Mark, was driving a convoy for the Nation Guard during the height of the Iraq War in Iran in 2006, so Sprinkle had to worry about her son’s safety every day.
“It was awful,” she said. “My husband is career Army. Having your son off to war was a lot different than your husband going to the field for months at a time.”
Wingard can also identify with Sprinkle as being part of a military family. “I was in the military, too,” she said.
Wingard also had to deal with her son, Martin Flake, traveling routes in Afghanistan the same distance as Carson City to Dayton that took 18 hours to travel due to land mines and IEDs.
McElfish’s nephew, Joshua Rodgers from Douglas County, died in Afghanistan in 2007. The son of Debbie and Ben Walker, Rodgers is survived by his wife and three daughters.
McElfish also has two sons, Matthew and Michael, who have been serving in the Army.
Denise Young’s son, Richard, is a sergeant in the Army who’s been to Korea and Afghanistan and has served as a recruiter. He’s now part of the prestigious Army Golden Knights parachute stunt team based in Fort Bragg, N.C.
“It’s just somewhere where we can all get together and talk about what our kids are going through and share our experiences,” Young said.
Dayton’s Lynda Ply has two sons in the military, Timothy, who has been to Korea, and Benjamin, who joined the Marines after graduating from Dayton High last year. Lynda noted Dayton has a large number of military members, saying 30 to 40 from the community have joined the military in the last several years.
The group is involved in several service projects, including supporting the Nevada Honor Flight, Western Nevada College’s Veterans Center and the Northern Nevada Veterans Cemetery in Fernley.
Those in the group also know whatever information they share that’s intended to stay within the group remains private so all those in the group know they can trust each other. They also help others in what information can be shared publicly because if it’s shared before it’s supposed to be made public — like a mother sharing on Facebook her son is coming home in a few days — it just doesn’t affect her son but those in his son’s unit.
What those in the local organization want to do most is just get the word out to others in their situation they are here. Even though the organization has been around since 2004, it’s still relatively unknown.
Those who would like more information about the group can contact Wingard at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, 775-246-2499 or 831-840-3095 or visit the website http://www.bluestarmothers.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=78.