On April 5, the nation paused to recognize a Day of Remembrance for Gold Star Spouses. It is a special time to honor surviving military spouses of those killed in combat, terrorist attacks, or while serving outside the United States as part of a peacekeeping force.
April 5 is a day to remember the husbands and wives who devoted their lives to serving their country.
I greatly honor this day for surviving spouses as a time for the military to show their support and for the family members to celebrate the legacy and sacrifice of their loved one.
Shirley Coleman, Air Force Families Forever/Gold Star Family Member Program coordinator
Shirley Coleman, Air Force Families Forever/Gold Star Family Member Program coordinator, said, “I greatly honor this day for surviving spouses as a time for the military to show their support and for the family members to celebrate the legacy and sacrifice of their loved one.”
The families participating at the Remembrance Day showed great strength and courage as they shared their life experiences. Some have started new relationships, most have children, some young and some in college.
These ladies contributed their progress to their faith, prayer, friends, counselors, and overall support from programs like Air Force Families Forever and various community programs.
When retired Master Sgt. Torri Kuhse was asked to describe how she remembers her husband, she said, “I wear a bracelet with Greg’s name and date of his death engraved on a silver plate, the kids and I celebrate his birthday, and we have his pictures around.”
Hearing stories about Greg told by his friends, journaling with her kids, and knowing that two of his closest friends had tattoos made in his memory, she adds that she always finds a reason to smile.
I wear a bracelet with Greg’s name and date of his death engraved on a silver plate, the kids and I celebrate his birthday, we have his pictures around.
Master Sgt. Torri Kuhse when asked to describe how she remembers her husband
Her advice to other spouses who experience the loss of a fallen family member is to allow themselves to get support right away, accept the new reality, and establish their own timeline for the grieving process. She recommends using a therapist to provide tools to help process the pain. She said to understand that you will likely blame others in the beginning, but therapy will help you learn how to let go of the anger.
To commemorate Greg’s life, Torri had a portrait of Greg placed in the 375th Air Mobility Wing Headquarters building. This portrait was donated by a local artist in his memory.
There is also a ground plaque in the triangle in downtown Troy.
Another spouse who attended the event, Navy Gold Star spouse Yolanda Hart, expressed that she and her spouse, U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Teddy Powell, met in grade school, grew up together, and were best friends.
“The grieving was difficult for me and my son,” she said. “I finally had to accept that my spouse wasn’t coming back. At that point in my journey, I realized that I needed to move forward with my life. The first thing I did was complete school, and now I am looking to start a new career.”
Yolanda calls this phase in her journey her “reinvented self.”
She said, “I poured into myself, which made me realize my undiscovered potential and future.”
Her son is now a freshman in college, and she is very proud of his accomplishments. He and his dad were very close, and he copes by talking about his dad’s memories.
The grieving was difficult for me and my son. I finally had to accept that my spouse wasn’t coming back. At that point in my journey, I realized that I needed to move forward with my life.
Navy Gold Star spouse Yolanda Hart talking about her deceased spouse, Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Teddy Powell
Yolanda suggests to other spouses to take it one day at a time and to not spend a lot of time alone. Prayer helped her cope, along with having a lot of support from friends and the Navy resources available.
“I am very proud of these brave warriors,” Coleman said. “They are on a challenging journey, but yet determined to persevere although things may be difficult at times. I feel honored and privileged to have heard their story. They are true heroes.”
The day ended with each participant receiving a bouquet of flowers to thank them for their time of sharing. A display board and resources were shared at the event.