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Assisting veterans in need

Former Tahoma Chapter of Gold Star Wives president, Arlene Murray, still leading the charge for veteran support

Former president of the Tahoma Gold Star Wives, Arlene Murray, receiving an I Corps Certificate of Appreciation during a Gold Star Wives event in Tacoma this past April. Photo credit: Gary Lott

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Anyone familiar with Gold Star Wives and the military supporting community as a whole, has probably heard the name, Arlene Murray.

Arlene Murray may no longer be making the primary decisions for local Gold Star Wives in the same capacity, but she is making sure that her name continues to remain synonymous with military support in the Pacific Northwest region.

The former president of the Tahoma Chapter of the Gold Star Wives will be supporting veterans and their families, but now on the board of directors for the Puget Sound Veterans Hope Center.

"Our organization currently helps homeless veterans who are in programs through the Tacoma Rescue Mission," said Murray.  "We just received a $600,000 Washington state grant with the help of Sen. Steve Conway, and we are going ahead to build a Veteran's Village of 30 tiny homes in Orting at the Soldier's Home."

Murray, the Puget Sound Veterans Hope Center's community outreach liaison, has been instrumental in setting up meetings with Joint Base Lewis-McChord leaders, local political leaders, and many other community leaders to gain support amongst not only Gold Star Wives, but now homeless veterans as well.

"I was thirty-one when I became a widow," said Murray in a previous interview.  "Unless you've lived through this, it is very difficult to understand and I feel that this experience has brought me full circle."

Her husband died while serving as a Special Forces soldier in the United States Army in San Antonio, Texas.

With the shock and dismay of her loss, Arlene quickly found that being a simple homemaker and wife was not enough to support her and her two young daughters.

She decided to be a Veterans Services Officer (VSO) processing VA disability claims for veterans and military widows.  

"It was through that experience and VA training that I discovered my true passion, the Gold Star Wives of America, Inc.," said Murray.  "It's a federally chartered and National Service Organization that supports surviving military spouses."

Murray became the Tahoma Chapter of the Gold Star Wives spokesperson by doing community outreach, and in 2014, was elected as their chapter president.

Arlene also serves in her community as a volunteer at the Washington Soldier's Home in Orting and at the Tacoma Rescue Mission for the homeless population in Pierce County.  

Now sitting on the board for Puget Sound Veterans Hope Center, as their community outreach liaison, Murray is instrumental in raising funds for their continued mission of assisting veterans in need.

The Puget Sound Veterans Hope Center is currently in the process of building a community of 30 small homes in Orting to house homeless veterans.

Although this remains Murray's primary focus, she never shies away from the opportunity to motivate and inspire others.

Murray recently received an unexpected invitation to be a motivational speaker for The Propeller Club of Tacoma dinner being held at the Tacoma La Quinta Hotel, Feb. 21, at 5 p.m.

"I will be using this opportunity to focus and tailor my topic to "Sailing on High Seas" and build upon it from there from my life experiences of growing up in the military and what I've been able to do as a surviving spouse," added Murray.  

"It's all about how we navigate the waters of life for smooth sailing and that there may be rough waters along the way, but keeping steady and true, is what it's all about!"

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