RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — It’s military camaraderie of another kind. A sense of community, found in hometowns throughout the country. That community is called Blue Star Mothers of America.
“It takes a village, especially when your child is in the military,” said Stephanie Sill with the Blue Star Families of Richmond.
These women didn’t sign up to serve their country, but their sons and daughters did.
“You come together here, and we listen to each other and we ‘get it’,” Sill said. “It’s just that understanding that isn’t often provided out in the real world.”
There are more than 200 chapters of the organization around the country. In Virginia’s capital city, they call themselves the Blue Star Families of Richmond.
Sill calls it a sisterhood.
“My oldest son Joshua is actually a veteran now of the Army. He served about eight years,” she said.
Joshua’s deployment helped her appreciate other moms who can relate to having a child overseas.
“He plays with bombs for a living, so pretty much every day was a stressful day for me,” she said.
They are moms with grown children in dangerous places, all while fighting their own battles on the home front.
“As a mom you really have to turn to people like your friends and the Blue Star moms who understand what you’re going through,” Sill said.
The group gets together all year long. They have picnics and celebrate patriotic holidays. In the fall they pack ‘treats for troops’ — sending care packages to dozens of active duty service members. Each December they decorate a holiday tree at the Virginia War Memorial.
But they also support moms who lost a child in action.
“One of the other missions of Blue Star moms is to take care of Gold Star mothers,” Sill said.
On that holiday tree, they also hang gold ornaments to honor the lives lost.
Susan Hulcher is one of the newest members of the group in Richmond.
“I joined the group and immediately they sent a care package to my daughter,” Hulcher said.
Hulcher, who is also a veteran, is one of nearly 6,000 Blue Star mothers across America. Her daughter, a nurse, is deployed in the middle east.
“Every day you say a prayer that she’s gonna be safe and that everybody she’s serving with is going to be safe,” Hulcher said.
Having a child in the military fills these mothers with a mix of emotions: Pride to have a child in uniform and uncertainty during all the moves and deployments.
“They [Blue Star Mothers of America] have all kinds of advice and wisdom to give to those of us who are now experiencing it for the first time,” Hulcher said.
Regardless of where their children are now, these women wear the blue stars proudly.
“My kid went and joined the military — well I can do my part here in my hometown by taking care of those who also served,” Sill said.
The Blue Star Mothers of America have chapters all over the country. To find one near you, visit bluestarmothers.org.