America Supports You: Silver Star Families Honor Wounded
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 26, 2006 "Silver Star Families of America" has one focus: America's war wounded.
"Our main mission is to make sure that the wounded of our armed forces are remembered," the group's founder Steven Newton said.
Newton, of Clever, Mo., founded the organization April 1, 2005, to establish a service banner that recognizes wounded American servicemembers of all conflicts. The idea was patterned after Gold Star Wives of America and Blue Star Mothers of America Inc. -- groups that recognize spouses of servicemembers who die on active duty and the parents of children in the military, respectively.
Newton said he has made strides in initiating legislation to get the Silver Star banner recognized by Congress.
"I've been fighting this battle for a couple of years ... to get the government to recognize it as an official banner," he said. "I've talked to the military, ... but it has to be an act of Congress."
While SSFA waits for the legislation to work its way through the system, it's already distributing certificates of appreciation and Silver Star banners to wounded veterans, Newton said. The banners can be requested from SSFA and, with reasonable proof of injury and adequate funding to provide them, they're issued.
If funds were to run short, the organization would present a certificate and tell people to buy the banner on SSFA's Web site, Newton said. However, "We've been very fortunate that we have had not had to turn anybody down," he said, adding that hundreds of banners have been sent out.
The profits from what is sold or received in donations are put right back into SSFA, so the group can continue its mission. No money is kept for overhead, Newton said. Newton, a former police chief with both Navy and Marine Corps active-duty service, uses the profits from sales of "The Old Sergeant," a book he authored, to pay for banners.
SSFA considers assisting wounded veterans in any way possible another part of its mission, Newton said. Mostly this means that when a banner is sent, a case of goodies is sent either to the individual or to the hospital where the servicemember is recuperating. The package is filled with donated books, CDs, phone cards and other items SSFA receives.
The organization, seeking nonprofit status, provides information on how to donate on its Web site. Currently, SFFA operates with "Soldiers' Angels," another non-profit troop-support organization founded by an SSFA member.
SSFA's 60 members take special pride in their goal to support America's wounded veterans, Newton said. "The medals fade away and tarnish, but there was nothing to make the country remember the blood sacrifice," he said. "If (Americans) drive by a (Veterans Affairs) nursing home or a hospital and they see that silver star (banner) and that makes them remember about the wounded, we've done our job."