Education Services Facilitator Vanessa Ann Anderson proudly serves as the local point of contact for the Navy Gold Star Program for the NPS and Naval Support Activity (NSA) Monterey communities. The Navy Gold Star Program aims to provide long-term support to the surviving families of Sailors who have given the ultimate sacrifice in service to their nation.
“We have promised to take care of our own by providing support services and outreach to surviving families,” said Anderson. “Typically, a blue star represents a member who is currently on active duty, so when a service member falls, that blue star turns gold, hence the Gold Star.
“For me, working with Gold Star Families is a privilege,” she continued. “Coming from a family in which my two grandfathers and my dad all served in the Navy, I can remember my grandpa talking about friends that he lost while on active duty and it really impacted him and my grandma.
“Not only did they lose friends, but they also saw how their families struggled with the loss,” she continued. “Now that the [Gold Star] program is in place and awareness is being raised, I really feel it helps give families a place to turn to where they can maintain a connection to the service, and in some ways, I hope it can be a comforting feeling.”
With the invaluable support provided by the program, Anderson says there are many ways the community can join her in supporting Gold Star Families. One way, she says, is to help raise awareness and support of the program at your current command. Another way is to ensure each Gold Star family still feels connected to their Navy family.
You can also support Gold Star Families by participating in the organization’s annual Bells Across America ceremony every year in September, Anderson says, where each Sailor who has fallen over the previous year is individually honored. Anderson says you can also show your support for the program by hosting families on the installation for events in recognition of their Gold Star status.
Navy-wide, there are 23 designated Gold Star Family Coordinators. In the Monterey area, families can reach out to local POC Anderson at the NSA Monterey Fleet and Family Support Center at (831) 656-3060, or to region Southwest Coordinator Sabrina Griffin at (619) 532-2886. For additional information on the program and for a list of Gold Star family coordinators, check out the Navy Gold Star Program website at https://www.navygoldstar.com/.