Gold Star PSAs to educate public on meaning

| February 6, 2014 | 2 Comments
Gold Star pins

Gold Star pins

William Bradner
U.S. Army Installation Management Command

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO — The Army announced that it will release three public service announcements (PSAs) over the next year to increase awareness of Department of Defense (DOD)-issued gold star and next of kin lapel pins.

The first PSA aired Sunday in the half hour before kickoff of Super Bowl XLVIII.

The pins are designed to signify the loss of a loved one in support of our nation. Although the gold star pins have been in existence for decades, many Americans are unfamiliar with their meaning. The PSAs were developed to help educate and inform the public of the significance of the pins.

“It’s heartbreaking to think that a mom wearing a gold star might have someone ask her, ‘What a beautiful pin. Where do I get one?’” said Donna Engeman, a gold star wife who manages the Survivor Outreach Services program for the Army.

“We decided we had to do something to ensure the nation — the world — recognizes what that pin really signifies,” Engeman said.

Though the gold star and next of kin lapel pins are a DOD program, the Army’s Installation Management Command (IMCOM) has taken on the mission of educating the public. This year, Gen. Ray Odierno, chief of staff of the Army, directed IMCOM to develop a campaign to inform America of the significance of this symbolic gold star pin.

“We’re committed to our survivors,” said Lt. Gen. Mike Ferriter, commander, IMCOM. “We owe it to them to ensure they get the support and service they deserve for as long as they need it.

“Educating the public on the meaning behind the gold star pins is simply another way to reaffirm to our survivors that we understand and honor the sacrifices they’ve made for our country,” Ferriter said.

The PSAs consist of documentary-style interviews and narrative stories from real survivors who volunteered to be a part of the project. Academy-award-nominated actor Gary Sinise provided the voice-overs.

“We tried to ensure the PSAs reflected the diversity of surviving families, as well as honoring their service and sacrifice,” said Hal Snyder, chief of IMCOM’s Wounded and Fallen Support Services office. “The PSAs include moms and dads, brothers and sisters, children, husbands, wives. … The point is you might see a gold star pin on just about anyone.

“We wanted to make sure everyone knows what that pin represents,” Snyder added.

The PSAs also serve to gently remind the American public that the freedom they enjoy comes at a cost, Snyder said.

“The call to action is to honor and learn,” he explained. “Honor those who have fallen, and learn about a small, but meaningful symbol presented to families who have lost a service member.”

The Army also plans an extensive outreach effort through social media and partnerships with corporate America.

“The more people who see these, the greater the opportunity to recognize and honor families of the fallen,” Snyder said.

The Army’s Survivor Outreach Services program currently supports more than 55,900 surviving military family members.


Hawaii-based gold star moms receive support from the Fort Shafter and Kalaeloa SOS, run by Army Community Service; Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. Visit or call 438-1951 or 844-6533 for service.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Robert Marron says:

    Tomorrow, July 20, 2014 will be the 46th anniversary of my brothers death, PFC Bruce A Marron. I have sent in several requests to the U.S. Army to get the Gold Star pin for my other brother and I, but have been refused, and they have NEVER responded with a reason why we cannot receive the Gold Star. My brother was KIA, and are treated like this!

    • haw says:

      Hello, Mr. Marron — I’m so sorry for your losses. I’ve forwarded your comments to the Survivor Outreach Services’ support coordinator. Hawaii-based Gold Star moms receive support from the Fort Shafter and Kalaeloa SOS, run by Army Community Service; Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. Visit or call 438-1951 or 844-6533 for service. I hope you receive answers or a pin. Sincerely, HAW Staff.

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