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Gold Star Families


Gold Star Families are the immediate family members of military personnel who died in the line of duty or due to service-related injuries or illnesses. This term originated during World War I, when families displayed a flag with a gold star to represent their fallen loved one. Gold Star Family members may be eligible for various benefits, services, and support programs from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Key Takeaways

  1. Gold Star Families refers to the loved ones of military personnel who have lost their lives in the line of duty, including in combat, training exercises, or due to service-connected disabilities.
  2. These families are eligible for various VA benefits and resources, such as educational assistance, financial counseling, health care access, job support, and survivor compensation, to help support and honor their sacrifices.
  3. The term “Gold Star” originated from the tradition of military families displaying a service flag with a blue star for each living family member in active duty. A gold star was used to represent a family member who had been killed while serving.


The term “Gold Star Families” holds significant importance as it represents the families of military service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice by losing their lives while serving in the line of duty.

Recognizing these families acknowledges their immense loss, pain, and the courage of their fallen loved ones who defended their nation and upheld the principles of freedom and democracy.

VA benefits for these families aim to provide support, financial assistance, and access to various resources that can help ease their burden and ensure they are honored and remembered.

In essence, acknowledging Gold Star Families is a way of expressing gratitude and solidarity as a nation, ensuring they continue to receive recognition, care, and support they deserve.


The Gold Star Families concept primarily serves as a recognition and support system for the loved ones of military service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the United States Armed Forces. The purpose behind this designation is to ensure that the family members left behind are honored, cared for, and supported by various communities and organizations.

By bestowing this title upon such families, it creates a network of assistance and highlights the importance of remembering the fallen soldiers as well as acknowledging the sacrifices made by their loved ones in their stead. Gold Star Families receive various benefits and support in recognition of the service members’ selfless actions.

These benefits aim to ease the financial, emotional, and educational strains faced by the grieving families. Comprehensive support for the bereaved kin includes financial assistance in the form of compensation and survivor benefits, access to mental health support and counseling services, and educational resources such as scholarship opportunities for the families’ children.

Furthermore, numerous local and national organizations have been established with the sole purpose of providing assistance and fostering camaraderie among Gold Star Families. This initiative not only upholds the memory of the fallen heroes but also significantly demonstrates the nation’s gratitude towards these families for the sacrifices they have endured.

Examples of Gold Star Families

Gold Star Families are immediate family members of fallen military service members who have died while serving in a time of conflict. Here are three real-world examples that involve these families:

Gold Star Mothers Pilgrimages – Between 1930 and 1933, the U.S. Government sponsored a series of voyages for Gold Star Mothers and Widows to visit the overseas grave sites of their fallen sons and husbands. Around 6,500 women took part in these expenses-paid pilgrimages to military cemeteries in Europe and remembered their loved ones.

Gold Star Family Memorial Monuments – There are multiple monuments dedicated to Gold Star families throughout the United States. One such monument is the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in Huntington, West Virginia, which was unveiled in 2013 to honor and recognize the families who have lost a loved one while serving in the military. These monuments serve as a place for remembrance and healing for those who have experienced this loss.

Snowball Express – Started in 2006, Snowball Express is an annual event sponsored by the Gary Sinise Foundation to support the children and surviving spouses of fallen military heroes. Gold Star families are invited to enjoy a weekend of fun, entertainment, and therapeutic activities as a way to honor and remember their loved ones. Since its beginning, thousands of Gold Star family members have participated in this event.

FAQ Section: Gold Star Families VA Benefits

What is a Gold Star Family?

A Gold Star Family is a family that has lost a loved one in a combat situation or military operation. This includes the immediate family members of fallen service members, including their parents, spouses, and children.

What are the VA benefits available to Gold Star Families?

Gold Star Families can access various VA benefits, including educational assistance programs, dependency and indemnity compensation, and bereavement counseling. Additionally, they may be eligible for health care, home loan assistance, and other federal and state benefits.

How do I become a member of a Gold Star Family?

If you are an immediate family member of a fallen service member, you are automatically a member of a Gold Star Family. To access related benefits, you should contact your nearest VA office or check the VA website for more information on the documentation required for specific programs.

What is the Gold Star Lapel Button?

The Gold Star Lapel Button, also known as the Gold Star Pin, is awarded by the United States Department of Defense to the families of service members who lost their lives during service. This lapel pin signifies their family’s sacrifice and serves as a reminder of their loved one’s commitment to their country.

How can I access educational benefits for Gold Star Families?

Gold Star Family members may be eligible for various educational benefits, such as the Fry Scholarship, the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program, and scholarship programs offered by various organizations. To apply, contact the VA or visit their website to learn more about eligibility requirements and the application process for each program.

Are Gold Star Families eligible for VA home loans?

Some Gold Star Family members may be eligible for VA home loan benefits. These include surviving spouses who have not remarried and dependent children of fallen service members. To learn more about eligibility and apply for a VA home loan, contact your nearest VA office for assistance.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Survivor Benefits
  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
  • Gold Star Lapel Button
  • Education Assistance (Fry Scholarship)
  • Bereavement Counseling

Sources for More Information