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Gold Star Siblings
When anyone hears that a Soldier has died in combat, some of the first thoughts that go through peoples’ minds are for the mothers and fathers. As a way to deal with the pain of losing a son or daughter, these family members got together and formed various communities to soothe each other. However, all too often, the siblings were sort of afterthoughts and left out. Where’s a kid to go who’s lost his mother or father in combat. Well, now, they have have a place to turn.
Karen A. Hickman, of Indiana, founded Gold Star Siblings Inc., so that siblings of deceased servicemembers had someone to lean on who understands what theyâ€™re going through. â€œThere has never been an organization just for siblings,â€ she said. â€œOur goal is to become one voice, to reach out and help the ones trying to deal with such a traumatic loss.â€
That was something she didnâ€™t have when her brother was killed while serving in Vietnam.
â€œWhen the funeral took place, I felt like an outsider,â€ Hickman said. â€œI had to grieve alone and where my parents couldnâ€™t see me because I had to be strong for them and my younger brother.
â€œI have never felt so alone,â€ she added.
Gold Star Siblings grew from those feelings of isolation and Hickmanâ€™s desire to never let another sibling suffer in silence. And while the members of her organization are not professional counselors, they certainly can understand what many siblings are facing today.
â€œWe are just like (them): confused, angry, sad and always wondering, â€˜Why him or her, and not me? Why was our world turned upside down?â€™â€ she said. â€œWe have been there, and everyday the thought is always with us.â€
Helping each other through grief, in part, means presenting a Gold Star flag to the oldest sibling, Hickman said. If there are other siblings, they receive Gold Star lapel pins.
If the family requests, Gold Star Sibling members also will stay with them during a servicememberâ€™s funeral.
Hickman said she hopes the affiliation will offer her organization exposure and the networking opportunities to let everyone know she and other Gold Star Siblings are there for those who need their help.