Monday, August 8, 2011

Support group for veterans' widows seeks more members
It’s a paradox: Dot Kennedy, president of the regional chapter of the Gold Star Wives, wants to attract more members.

On the other hand, the Franklinville woman doesn’t, “because the only way to get new members is for someone to die.”

The Gold Star Wives are a support group for widows of veterans. They were first founded in 1945. The Hollybush chapter, encompassing the South Jersey region, was established in 1977.

Kennedy said Hollybush’s numbers used to be high. Their current membership stands at 89, though many are not active.

Part of the problem, said vice president and Malaga resident Julia Thompson, is they get lumped in with the Gold Star Mothers, who were founded only four years earlier.

“That’s the first thing (people) think,” she said.

Beyond providing each other emotional support, the Wives exist as a resource to inform members what kind of benefits they may be eligible for. Many veterans’ wives and widows don’t know what’s available to them, said Kennedy, citing property tax exemptions as one example.


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