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Tacoma Yacht Club salutes Gold Star Wives

Local leaders set to attend, donations for support needed

Arlene Murray has a special connection to Gold Star Wives. Photo credit: Susan Melnyk

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Arlene Murray, current president of the Tahoma Gold Star Wives Chapter, has a special connection to the organization.

"I was thirty-one when I became a widow," she said. "I was handed a gold star by the casualty officer but didn't learn about the organization until much later."  

The struggle of dealing with life after the loss of an active-duty servicemember can be overwhelming. Although every spouse's experience is unique, Arlene emphasizes the importance of finding support among people who have been through something similar.  "Unless you've lived through this, it is very difficult to understand," she said. "I feel that this experience has brought me full circle, and this organization was a huge part of that."

Gold Star Wives, started by a young widow in 1945 with Eleanor Roosevelt as a founding member, represents surviving military spouses in Congress and at chapters throughout the United States.  

The Government Relations Committee has been responsible for maintaining and highlighting survivor benefits at a national level, including medical and education benefits that help a surviving spouse care for themselves and their families after the loss of a servicemember.

On the local level, the organization is involved in programs for survivors and veterans at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and locations throughout Washington state. Members put in thousands of volunteer hours sharing their experiences and connecting military families with resources in the community, as well as highlighting important memorial events.

Members come in a wide range of ages and from all walks of life, representing the diverse tapestry of our surviving military spouses.  Some join the organization soon after losing their spouse in search of support, while others connect later in life to honor their experience and help those who come after them.

Friday, the Tacoma Yacht Club will celebrate Washington state's first annual National Gold Star Wives Day. The event will pay special homage to members who have volunteered their time to fellow survivors and veterans, many of whom are more than 80 years old, and will include a luncheon and Puget Sound cruise with a releasing of doves ceremony in remembrance.  

Congressman Denny Heck and members of the JBLM command will be in attendance, as well as representatives from Senator Maria Cantwell's office.  

"I want surviving spouses to know that I honor you and I treasure you," said Murray, who will turn the position over to Catherine Trujillo-Adriaansen in June. "Your sacrifice and service have not gone unnoticed."

Donations are needed from the community to complete the budget for the event. Tax-deductible donations for the Tahoma chapter luncheon can be made online at

To learn more about membership in the Gold Star Wives or to make a donation to the organization, please visit

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