Recent news from The MOAA Newsletter. View previous editions of Council and Chapter News here.
The 2019 Community Outreach Grant Cycle Is Now Open!
The MOAA Foundation now is accepting applications for its 2019 Community Outreach Grants. The grants are offered to MOAA councils or chapters providing services to local military and veteran families — either directly or through partnerships with other community organizations — in one of nine areas of critical military and veteran family need: housing, food assistance, employment, health (including behavioral health), family strength, community reintegration, financial assistance, legal assistance, and transportation. Learn more about the grants and find the application online.
Apply for the 2019 USAA/MOAA Sponsorship Program
The program can help MOAA councils and chapters finance special events such as state conventions and ROTC/Junior ROTC activities.
Looking for ways to finance a state council convention or special chapter event? Apply for sponsorship through MOAA’s affinity partner USAA, which provides up to $800 for state council events or $300 for special chapter events. Councils and chapters may apply for one event in the upcoming 2019 calendar year. Those that receive funding must recognize USAA as a sponsor or contributor at the event. Sponsorship will be considered for events such as state council conventions, chapter events that recognize ROTC and Junior ROTC cadets and enhance the chapter’s relationship with cadets’ schools, special chapter meetings to educate members about benefits, and more.
We now are accepting submissions for 2019 funds. Apply by visiting MOAA's website and filling out and submitting the online request form. You will receive an email that confirms your request and lets you know when you can expect an answer.
Levels of Excellence Award Photos Available Online
National MOAA presented 165 chapters and councils with four- and five-star Levels of Excellence Awards at a ceremony during the association’s annual meeting in Phoenix. To view and download the professional photographs from the Levels of Excellence Award dinner, visit www.moaa.org/LOE2018.
Surviving Spouse Corner: What It Means When A Star Is Gold
Many people — including some in the military community — are unaware of the significance of a gold star.
By Gail Joyce, Surviving Spouse Advisory Committee
My son, Sgt. James Casey Joyce, 24 — a U.S. Army Ranger — was killed in action in Somalia Oct. 3, 1993, in the Battle of Mogadishu, better known as Blackhawk Down. Someone somewhere gave me a gold pin with a purple background and a gold star in the middle — a symbol of my son's service and sacrifice.
Later, while attending a conference in Chicago, I wore my pin on the lapel of my jacket. Most of the people there were aware of my loss. But as I spoke with a group, an acquaintance walked up, pointed to my pin, and said, "What a pretty pin!" I replied, "Thank you. This is my Gold Star pin. I am a Gold Star Mom." And she said, "Oh, how wonderful! What did you do to earn that?''
What do you say? What do you do? I quickly figured out she did not know anything about the gold star and what it signified. I did not want to embarrass her, but I finally decided only the truth would do, so I explained about the gold star and what I did to earn it.
There are many stories like mine — even some people in the military are unaware of the Gold star and its significance. Imagine having to explain repeatedly what the gold star on a service flag, or on a license plate, or a pin on your lapel represents: the death of your child or spouse who fought and died for our country. Yet, it also is an honor to have an opportunity to tell his story.
During World War II, families, churches, and businesses flew flags in their windows denoting someone in their family was serving in the military. These flags still are used today. They are bordered in red, with a center of white. In the center is a star for each member of the family serving. A blue star represents someone serving in a current conflict. A silver star means someone has been wounded in combat. A gold star represents a fallen family member.
In 1947, Congress standardized the service banners and established the gold star lapel pins to issue to immediate family members of servicemembers killed in combat. The pin is a gold star on a field of purple surrounded by laurel leaves. A lapel pin was approved in 1973 for next-of-kin of servicemembers who lose their lives while serving on active duty. It is a gold star on a gold background surrounded by four oak sprigs.
Congress and the military have made an effort to recognize and honor survivors. Congress has designated the last Sunday in September as Gold Star Mother's Day. Dec. 18 is designated as Gold Star Wives Day. The Army in 2014 developed three PSAs to inform America of the significance of this Gold star. According to an Army spokesperson: "The PSAs serve as a gentle reminder to the American public that the freedom they enjoy comes at a cost. This is a call to action is to honor and learn. Honor those who have fallen and learn about a small but meaningful symbol presented to families who have lost a servicemember."
I think it also is our responsibility as survivors, as we continue to honor our loved ones, to educate every chance we get about our stars — especially the gold ones. A gold star is something no parent or spouse ever wants to receive. It forever changes who you are. And I, for one, don't want anyone to ever forget this sacrifice.
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From the Field
MOAA chapters give back to their communities through fundraising efforts, community-service projects, scholarship programs, and other initiatives. Here are some recent activities.
- Members of the Lancaster (Pa.) Chapter visited local schoolchildren in November as part of the chapter’s Adopt-a-Kid/Adopt-a-Vet program to talk about what a veteran is, what it takes to be one, what it takes to serve the country, and what an honor and privilege it is to serve. Veterans visited Mountville Elementary School Nov. 7 to speak with sixth-grade students and Central Manor Elementary Nov. 8 and 9 to speak to fifth- and sixth-grade students. They then returned to Mountville and Central Manor Elementary Schools Nov. 15 and 19 for an assembly with the whole school, where students sang each military service’s song, gave presentations, and thanked the veterans.
- The Central Oregon Chapter participated in the Veterans Day parade in Bend — the largest Veterans Day event in central Oregon. Chapter members rode in the parade on a vehicle with signage that highlighted the chapter’s name and mission. This has become an annual event for the chapter.
- Seventeen members of the Ohio Council of Chapters attended the grand opening of the National Veterans Memorial and Museum Oct. 27 in Columbus, Ohio. The members braved the rain and cold temperatures to take part in the ceremony, which included military leaders past and present. View photos from the event.