"I remember the first one I went to, in 2007. Another Gold Star mom in CO that I'd connected with had told me how much it had helped her and her adult daughter to go the year before. It was overwhelming to see all the pictures of our CO loved ones in that hallway and to know that there were so many others hurting like I was. But, it was amazing at how quickly we all connected as we were with others that "got it". We became a family, that unfortunately, has grown with each year since. These Blue Star moms put themselves out there, rubbing elbows with their worst nightmares, and provide us with a safe and nurturing place to be with others experiencing this profound sorrow. They listen, hug us, just hang with us and have provided wonderful speakers over the years. Each year is different as I'm in a different place. But, the huge feeling of acceptance of us where we are by these wonderful ladies and gents helps me recharge for yet another year without my Kyle. I look forward to reconnecting with those I only see once a year due to distance between us. It helps me to know that there are those that have survived longer than me and are still here. I feel blessed to have this retreat as have spoken with many parents in other states that don't have this kind of support and love. Thank you!"
-Nancy Pfande Proud mother of Cpl Kyle W. Powell, USMC, KIA Nov 4, 2006, Iraq
Eleven years into the grief journey, after our son was killed in a non combat motor vehicle accident. We attended our first Gold Star Weekend. We finally began to see light after the weekend. We felt we were not alone and we felt like there were no expectations on us or the deep sorrow we were experiencing. It was life changing and we are so thankful that we attended. Even though it took us awhile to finally accept the invitation and attend the weekend. We feel it was right “on time” and we are so grateful for the healing that started to come for us after this weekend. The different aspects of the weekend brought hope and peace to my heart. I pray that others who come after us to this event will experience the beauty that we did. In the very hard places of life and the deep places of our pain, the event offered solace to our brokenness. Thank you Blue Star mothers and all who make this possible. Our gratitude cannot be expressed with words however we are trying.
-GSM Cheryl Jackson Proud mother of PFC Donald J. Jackson, US Army National Guard, 7/13/02
The Gold Star Parents' Retreat is something my husband and I look forward to all year long. It is a special time to be able to be with our Gold Star family. These are people we may only see once a year, but we share a special heart bond that connects us in a way that is indescribable. We are parents whose children were killed in the military, and that makes our bond even stronger. It is so helpful to be in an atmosphere where talking about our children is ok. It is special to hear their names, to see the honor that is shown during the weekend. It means so much to be able to just be ourselves - we can laugh, tell stories, cry and it's ok. I feel like some of my closest friends are moms I've met at these retreats. I love this family. I remember the first one we went to, we were greeted by the sweetest Blue Star moms and dads, who embraced us, made us feel welcome and understood - and my broken heart melted. These wonderful volunteers work so hard, and take such good care of us during the weekend. It helps tremendously, to be able to be together with all these wonderful people. Thanks so much to those who donate and help make the weekend happen for us.
-GSM Dianne Homm Proud mother of SSGT Caleb M. Medley, USMC, 3/26/13
Our long journey of grief and loss started on January 5, 2012. Our youngest daughter TSGT Brooke Leigh Caffrey, USAF had died by suicide as a result of her PTSD. Brooke had just returned from a deployment to Iraq in November, 2011. Brooke deployed four times during her 17 year Air Force career. Her death opened a huge wound in our family....we were adrift in our mourning.
Later in 2012, we received an invitation to attend the the Colorado Gold Star Family Retreat in Steamboat Springs. We were very reluctant to go perceiving that attending would only be another painful experience. I first spoke with Janna by phone to get the details on this event and it was then that I decided we should go. Janna's words were so comforting and reassuring that the weekend was not all about grief, it was about healing and sharing with other Gold Star families including herself. We did attend and the weekend was full of love, compassion and sharing the stories about our children.
Janna and her team of Blue Star Mothers of Colorado were totally dedicated to providing anything we needed for that weekend. As a "new" family we embraced and encouraged by other families. We have subsequently attended two other annual gatherings and plan on attending future events. Why, because of the love and we all share for each other. Janna has always put her heart and soul into the year long work of preparing and hosting our gathering.
GSM Lana Wayne Telford Proud Parents of TSGT Brooke Leigh Caffrey, USAF, 1/5/2012
Our journey from being Blue Star parents to a Gold Star family began on a Sunday afternoon in June 2011 when I and my husband were notified that our son, Kenneth, a U.S. Army helicopter pilot, had been killed in action in Afghanistan. We did not realize how much grief and loss we would endure or how to survive without our son. The first year was a blur. In 2012, we were invited to the Colorado Gold Star weekend in September in Estes Park, Colorado. John and I were excited and hesitant to go, not knowing what to expect. We had only met a few Gold Star families in our home town. At the event, we met people who “got it” and understood the meaning of being part of a military family and the sacrifice each makes when a loved one goes off to war. We also met the many Blue Star moms and dads and volunteers who make the weekend such a success, providing a caring place where we could share stories about Kenneth. We did not want to leave when the weekend ended--we had made so many connections with other survivors. We have since been privileged to attend each Gold Star weekend, missing only one in 2015. The Blue Star Moms in Colorado devote many hours each year to make the event special for the families who attend. Janna and her team of volunteers open their hearts and arms and share their love and compassion for the Colorado Gold Star families.
GS Mom Linda White Proud Mother of CW3 Kenneth Ryan White, 6/05/2011
Since the loss of our son in military action in Afghanistan in 2011, I have been associated with the Gold Star Mothers/family organization. I have been privileged and honored to be a part of such a caring and efficient group. The Colorado Gold Star Family weekend in September of each year provides an opportunity to meet and share with families of similar loss and grief. We can openly honor and recognize our loss and loved one. It is very important that this nation has people that come together to support our military and recognize its sacrifices. A great tribute and thank you must be given to the organization, workers, and sponsors who use their time and talents to make the Gold Star Weekend such a success. Without their efforts and concerns, many Gold Star Parents would be left alone and having no recognition of their loss and sacrifice. My wife and I will continue to support and attend this event in the coming years. To those who have not yet availed themselves of this Weekend, you are missing out on a blessed time of sharing, sympathy, compassion and healing.
GS Dad John White Proud Father of CW3 Kenneth Ryan White, 6/05/2011