Aiding the Afflicted: Supporting Military Families during Periods of Grief
Our military families are strong and resilient, but sometimes their strength may cause us to overlook their sacrifice. Minnesota’s service members and military families endure for us all, which is why Governor Dayton remains committed to ensuring they are never forgotten.
In 1917, George Seibold was killed flying with the 148th U. S. Aero Squadron over Europe. His mother, Grace Darling Seibold, was stricken with grief. Rather than allowing her pain to become destructive, Grace founded the Gold Star program to support other mothers whose sons had lost their lives in military service. Eventually, this group of mothers met not to only comfort each other, but also to lavish loving care to hospitalized veterans confined in government hospitals far from home.
Today, the program comforts all relatives of men and women killed in action. Each summer, these military families are able to spend a weekend at Camp Ripley in Little Falls to honor, remember, and celebrate the heroism and lives of their loved ones.
The retreat has grown each year from 70 attendees in 2008 to 180 in 2012. And each year there are family members who attend for the first time, even though the loss of their service member may have occurred long ago.
Recently the federal government cut funding for this program. To pick up the slack, Governor Dayton and the legislature provided new funding for the Gold Star program to ensure military families continue receiving support during periods of grief.
One participant commented, “I appreciate the great efforts that have been made in creating a comfortable, supportive weekend for those of us who have lost family members that were serving in the military. Although nothing can replace the son I lost, knowing that so many other people care is comforting.”
Sometimes our military service members make the ultimate sacrifice. We can only hope the Gold Star program continues supporting our military families.