Group Helps Families of Fallen Warriors
By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 4, 2008 Children of fallen warriors will enjoy camp activities and get help managing their grief this month at a program designed especially for them.
A Camp Life counselor greets a camper. The next Camp Life for survivors of fallen warriors is scheduled for Nov. 15-16, 2008, at Fort Hood, Texas. Photo courtesy of HUGSS
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Helping Unite Gold Star Survivors, or HUGSS, will host its fourth “Camp Life” at Fort Hood, Texas, Nov. 15- 16. The camp combines grief counseling with physical activities such as water sports, skiing, sailing, archery, canoeing, horseback riding, fishing and art.
HUGSS operates the Gold Star Family Support Center on Fort Hood, which serves families of fallen servicemembers with grief support, camps and daily outreach. Gold Star families are those who have lost a loved one serving in the military.
“Camp Life is a very successful camp for us, where we usually have 30 to 50 campers per camp,” Debbie A. Busch, executive director and founder of HUGSS, said. “Camps mean many different things to our Gold Star families. They mean coming together with other families who understand and who allow them to take the time to acknowledge their loss. It allows children and adults alike to realize there is so much to be thankful for, and that death cannot steal their memories or love that they have for their loved one.”
HUGSS serves more than 50 families in the Killeen area of Texas and about 1,200 others throughout the United States. Programs and services offered include support groups, bereavement camps and events, and phone calls and cards.
The program provides age-appropriate support and activities for children 5 and older, as well as for adults, Busch said. Gold Star spouses, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters are welcome to attend. Child care is provided for infants and preschool children.
Busch said the center and the organization augment the extended care for families provided by military care teams and casualty assistance officers. HUGSS provides a voice and liaison between families and their loved ones’ units, communication assistance for special memorials and events, and training for family readiness groups, care teams and casualty assistance officers, she said.
“HUGSS is dedicated to serving the families of our fallen heroes,” Noah Boucher, public relations and event coordinator for HUGSS, said. “HUGSS has taken care of Gold Star families over the past four years by helping them work through their grief as a family and community.”
Busch started HUGSS nearly five years ago. As the wife of a command sergeant major, she has led family readiness groups during her 25 years as an Army spouse.
“HUGSS gives hope to these families that they are not alone in their grief by providing this sense of community,” Busch said. “It is our goal and honor to support these families, and it is our way of telling them we will never forget their sacrifice.”