Survivor Outreach Services offers support, inspiration to Gold Star Mothers
By Danielle Davis, Bayonet & Saber /
“I want them to know that the sacrifice of their service members have not been forgotten and that we are here for them not just today on Gold Star Mother’s Day, but every day of the year,” said Megan Baumgartner, a Survivor Outreach Services coordinator. “They can always come to us because they’re part of the Fort Benning family no matter what.”
Fort Benning’s Survivor Outreach Services held the fifth annual Gold Star Mother’s Brunch Sept. 25 at the Benning Club.
“We started this in 2011,” added Baumgartner. “We were looking for a recognition event for the Gold Star Mothers and this was something that we came up with while brainstorming and it just took off.”
“I want all of our mothers to feel like they’re still part of the Fort Benning community and the Army family,” said Baumgartner.
Kyhia Ruiz, Gold Star Mother of fallen Senior Airman Kcey Ruiz, was the guest speaker at the event.
“Everybody hears about Kcey the airman, but I want to tell you about Kcey my daughter. To know her was to love her,” said Ruiz, who shared stories from her daughter’s childhood with the audience.
Ruiz also discussed her daughter’s compassion for others saying, “She was always able to see the good in people. Her teachers noticed it and they asked her to be a peer leader at her school. She was very proud of that and she enjoyed it.”
“As a father I know the intense love that parents feel for their children and while I’ve not personally experience the loss of a child and cannot begin to understand what you have gone through, as a Soldier, I do however know the effect of when we lose one of our own,” said Brig. Gen. John Kolasheski, commandant of the U.S. Army Armor School.
“I want each of you to know they all made a significant contribution on those they served with and those they came in contact with while they were here on this Earth,” he added. “They were and always will be part of a brother and sisterhood of arms. And today we join together in celebrating their service and your resiliency.”
Patricia Miers, one of the Gold Star Mothers in attendance, lost her son Sgt. 1st Class David Salie on Feb. 14, 2005, in Baqubah, Iraq.
“It’s really nice that they do this for us. It lets us know that they appreciate our sacrifice. It keeps us on our feet. That’s the thing, keeping people on their feet. I’ve been to 11 of these events and we’ve all become friends with one another,” said Miers.
Judy Hawkins, a longtime friend of Miers, joined her.
“We share 52 years of friendship. My son and her daughter were born two weeks apart,” said Miers.
“I really loved David,” added Hawkins.
Ida Ward, another Gold Star Mother, lost her son in August of this year. “I feel privileged to hear from another Gold Star Mother. Some days I’m okay. It’s still very new for me. It’s a process. I’m trying to get adjusted,” she said.
Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Floyd served as a senior leader table host at the event.
“Each time I’ve come to these events they always give great inspirational messages to everyone in the audience,” said Floyd. “It’s always amazing how resilient the families are. Some are older and some come with young children. It’s great to see how the families continue to give the message of the lost loved one while living on.”
It’s so important to remember the Gold Star families and continue supporting them, he added.
For more photos from this event, visit fortbenningphotos.com.