Gold Star Siblings
Help Others Deal with Loss

New support group Gold Star Siblings joins Gold Star Mothers and Gold Star Wives, who have supported each other for many years when a loved one was lost in combat. Only those in similar situations can truly understand the feelings and challenges they face.

Now, there is a special group to support the brothers and sisters of those killed in action.

Gold Star Siblings, Inc. was founded by Karen A. Hickman, of Indiana, so that siblings of deceased service members had someone to lean on who understands what they’re going through. "There has never been an organization just for siblings," she said. "Our goal is to become one voice, to reach out and help the ones trying to deal with such a traumatic loss."

Hickman's brother was killed while serving in Vietnam.

"When the funeral took place, I felt like an outsider," Hickman said. "I had to grieve alone and where my parents couldn’t see me because I had to be strong for them and my younger brother.

"I have never felt so alone," she added.

From those feelings of isolation, Hickman created Gold Star Siblings so that another sibling never has to suffer in silence. Although the members of Gold Star Siblings are not professional counselors, they certainly can understand what many siblings are facing today.

"We are just like (them): confused, angry, sad and always wondering, 'Why him or her, and not me? Why was our world turned upside down?'" she said. "We have been there, and everyday the thought is always with us."

The group presents a Gold Star flag to the oldest sibling. If there are other siblings, they receive Gold Star lapel pins.

And if the family requests, Gold Star Sibling members will stay with them during a service member’s funeral.

Gold Star Siblings is a new member of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad.

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.

-- Our thanks to Samantha L. Quigley, American Forces Press Service
for the information appearing in this article.

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