They’re members of the “club that no one wishes to join,” as Gov. Maura Healey put it.

Clad in gold jackets and garrison caps, members of the Gold Star spouses community — survivors of military members who died serving their country — filled the Senate Reading Room Wednesday for a luncheon and chance to hear from government officials.

“We understand the plight of mental health right now…and that undoubtedly there are going to be more families in need of support, in need of the protections,” the governor told them. 

Peggy Griffin, president of the Greater Boston Chapter of Gold Star Wives of America, said the surviving spouses unite to “work for better benefits and a better life for us and our children.”

While the greatest loss is emotional, there are other realities to cope with.

“One of the things that happens to you when you lose your spouse, is you lose 75 percent of your income on average,” Griffin said. “You lose your status socially, as a couple. And you no longer fit into the community.”

Gold Star Wives of America creates a “new community” for them, while connecting them with benefits they’re entitled to, she added.

Sen. John Velis, a major in the U.S. Army Reserve who’s served tours in Afghanistan, said no group of people has sacrificed more than Gold Star family members.

“Something very bad happened in your lives. And you folks decided to get together, to solidify, and be advocates,” the Westfield Democrat said

(Copyright (c) 2024 State House News Service.

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