Ken Beaton: The last Sunday in September | NevadaAppeal.com

Ken Beaton: The last Sunday in September

Ken Beaton

What is a Gold Star mother? She's the mother who has lost an American son or daughter in the service of our country including Missing In Action.

I have a personal knowledge of a Gold Star mother. I was 32 months old when my mother's parents became a Gold Star family. "THE SECRETARY OF WAR DESIRES ME TO EXPRESS HIS DEEP REGRET THAT YOUR SON RICHARD E. DAIGLE WAS KILLED IN ACTION IN DEFENSE OF HIS COUNTRY ON THREE DECEMBER IN ITALY LETTER WILL FOLLOW." The telegram was delivered on Dec. 22, 1943, three days before their worst Christmas ever!

Shortly after I turned 3 years old, I remember a gold star hanging in the kitchen window of my grandparents' home.

Every Thursday my grandmother rode an Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway bus to downtown Lynn, Mass. She ate lunch with other Gold Star mothers. They supported each other.

Males grieve differently than females. They remain silent, never verbalizing their grief. My grandfather could have used a Gold Star fathers support group. Instead, he grieved alone. Just like the song, "One Is The Loneliest Number."

I can remember being 12 years old in 1953 at my grandparents' home for the holidays. Pop, my grandfather, was quietly sitting in his chair. Mom asked her dad, "What are you thinking about, Pop?" He responded, "Richard."

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My grandparents had three sons and three daughters. All three sons enlisted in the military in World War II. I'm aware it's not good for parents to have a favorite, but I know Richard was Pop's favorite son. His eyes sparkled when he told me, "When Richard came home on Christmas leave in 1942, he was in fantastic shape!"

"American Gold Star mothers concentrate on providing emotional support to its members, doing volunteer work with veterans in general at veterans' hospitals in particular, and generally fostering a sense of patriotism and respect for members of the Armed Forces."

Gold Star mothers have begun to assist patients in veterans' hospitals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD. "PTSD is a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event."

Many people who go through a traumatic event temporarily have difficulty adjusting and coping. "If the symptoms get worse, last for months or even years, and interfere with your day-to-day functioning, you may have PTSD." Treatment of PTSD symptoms is critical to reduce symptoms.

Personally, I feel saddened every time I hear a news report about one or more of our service men or women being Killed In Action. I was shocked when I read an average of 22 of our vets, both male and female, suffering from PTSD commit suicide EVERY DAY. Do the math! That's 8,030 of our brave vets who came home to kill themselves. I don't know how you feel about that horrible statistic. I say we need more people helping our Gold Star mothers by volunteering, lobbying for more benefits, working at Stand Down to get that number down to none of our vets committing suicide!

Sept. 29 is Gold Star Mother's Day. You can show your support for these brave mothers who lost a son or daughter by volunteering to help one or more of our vets defeat their PTSD and not become a suicide statistic. TEAM, Together Everyone Accomplishes More.

At a recent public forum, I asked Steve Sisolak, "Since Governor Sandoval wants to make Nevada the most veteran friendly state, what do you propose to do for our vets?" Steve responded, "Our veterans looked out for us while serving our country. We need to look out for them when they return. As governor, I'll work with vets and military families to make sure they always have the support they need — whether it is seeking to prevent suicides, ensuring access to mental health services or increasing education opportunities. We owe them!"

Ken Beaton of Carson City contributes periodically to the Nevada Appeal.