I belong to an organization called Gold Star Wives of America. There are 10,000 members. Some of them keep in touch through online forums created just for them..They are widows whose husbands died while on active duty or as the result of a service connected cause..They represent all branches of service.
We widows exchange information concerning benefits, education, health and legislative issues.
Nancy, a new member, emailed, "My husband was a Marine in Vietnam and served 13 years, but was shot and killed in the National Guard in 1984. "Our stories are all somewhat different, yet somehow all the same," she said.
Judi wrote," My Billy served in Korea, Siapan, Japan and Guam. He died in 1983 after years of illness."
Many of the widows were longtime caretakers for their retired military husbands.
A member who joined the organization one year ago, wrote, "My husband was a Vietnam veteran. He served in the Navy and the inland waterways and rivers in Vietnam. He enlisted at 17.
She continued, "Sadly, in 1998 the signs of Agent Orange related illness set in. From there it was a slow decline from a 6' l", 225 pounds to a living skeleton who could not walk. He was too young to die. He felt no bitterness, he loved his country and he said he did his duty. I will carry the loss of my husband within my heart until I sleep beside him," she said.
And those stories go on and on as the wives share their stories and their grief.