Mullens Honored for Support of Families of Fallen
By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 27, 2010 The nation’s top military officer and his wife were singled out for their ongoing commitment to families of fallen servicemembers at the U.S. Capitol building here today.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses the Gold Star Wives of America Congressional Reception at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2010. Mullen and his wife, Deborah, were both honored with appreciation awards from the organization for their devotion to families of the fallen and wounded warriors. DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeely
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The Gold Star Wives of America presented Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife, Deborah, with an appreciation award for their efforts on behalf of survivors and their families during the organization’s annual congressional reception.
The Gold Star Wives is an organization of military widows and widowers whose spouses died while on active duty or from service-connected disabilities.
The ceremony came at a fitting time with Memorial Day so close at hand, Mullen noted.
“I’m reminded today … coming into this very important weekend of remembrance that we should never forget the sacrifice,” he said.
The chairman pledged his ongoing support of families of the fallen, and vowed to continue his efforts to find more ways to remember and honor their sacrifice.
“Sometimes it’s easier in the beginning to do that because of the currency of the event,” he acknowledged. “What’s really important is that we sustain that love, devotion, passion and remembrance for as long as we live.”
Mullen said one of his priorities is to ensure all military families – whether they include veterans, wounded servicemembers, active or reserve members or survivors – are embraced by their communities to meet their immediate and long-term needs.
The chairman stressed the need for a “seamless joining” of the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and communities across the nation to “welcome these heroes back to communities.”
All must “join hands together to make sure we maximize the opportunities in meeting the needs of our young veterans as they return home after these very difficult wars,” he said. “And not lose one family who has lost someone.”
Mullen reiterated his ongoing commitment to families of the fallen.
“We really are honored to serve, to try and make a difference, and we’ll continue to do that,” he said. “Your loss, your sacrifice is the most significant, the ultimate, and the one we need to ensure we are focused on and never, ever forget.”
The chairman’s wife also acknowledged the immense sacrifice made by military families, and praised the Gold Star Wives for their work on their behalf.
“We believe that none of us does this alone,” she said. “It has to be one large team of people working in concert to take care of the families who have lost people, to the families who have wounded members, to those who come back with the unseen and the seen wounds of war.
“This is not just about the military or the VA. It is about all of us in our country,” she continued. “And you represent an important part of that. We will never forget your service, but most importantly, we’ll never forget the heart you have, the caring heart, for those people like you who have lost a loved one.”