Blue Star Mothers of Louisiana: A Powerful Bond of Military Moms

Allison Orges

As we recently reflect on the ninth anniversary of 9/11 and the tragic events that occurred, we feel a sense of patriotism for those who risk their lives protecting our freedom.   We think about the men and women who serve our nation with selfless dedication and honor.   It takes a true commitment for the members of our military to endure the harsh realities of life in other countries while on a deployment, and the time apart from family while stationed in various locations throughout the world.   While these servicemen and women perform the job they feel called to do, each has family members anticipating their return.    Back home, there are mothers anxiously waiting letters or phone calls and longing to see their child safely return back home.   Fortunately, these mothers never have to face this situation alone.   A well-known, nationally recognized organization, Blue Star Mothers, provides an opportunity for women to give confidence and support to one another.  The common bond that holds them together is that they are all mothers of men and women serving in our military.  

Blue Star Mothers dates back to World War I.  During this period of time, families of active military members hung the Blue Star Flag in the window of their homes.  The Blue Star represented the person who was a member of the armed forces.   Later, with the emergence of World War II, our country experienced a heightened sense of patriotism and pride in the military.  People from every background were seeking a way to be involved and demonstrate their support for the troops.  While many men were away fighting the war, women were at home doing their best to assist in the war effort.  Whether working together in factories and hospitals, or meeting to prepare care packages, women were uniting in many different ways.   One familiar similarity among many of the women was the role of mother.   Mothers of the military began meeting to assist each other during the many transitions and hardships that can occur as a military family.   

More recently, the Blue Star Mothers organization experienced an increase in popularity since the catastrophic events of 9/11.  This past weekend, Blue Star Mothers attended the Freedom Walk that was held at the USS Kidd.   The purpose of the walk is to honor and remember the victims who lost their lives on that heartbreaking day.  

Blue Star Mothers are mothers of military servicemen and woman.   They join together to support one another and share a very special relationship.   In addition to providing encouragement, Blue Star Mothers advocate patriotism through their continual support of active duty military personnel, assistance with veterans, and volunteer efforts to unite and strengthen the nation.   In an effort to provide support at a local level, several chapters of Blue Star Mothers have been established throughout the country.   There are currently five chapters in Louisiana.  The original chapter of the state, also known as “Chapter 1” is the Greater Baton Rouge chapter of Blue Star Mothers.   Several Iberville Parish mothers are active in this chapter, which meets in Baton Rouge.  To become involved as a member, for additional information on Blue Star Mothers of Louisiana Chapter 1, or to make a monetary donation, contact President Janet Broussard at (225) 677-8371 or bsmpresident@yahoo.com.

Although they have hearts filled with pride and patriotism, it is understandable for a military mother to have anxious thoughts and concerns about her child’s safety while he or she is serving.   This can be a difficult period in a mother’s life and a time when she needs the understanding of those facing similar situations.  Blue Star Mothers develop a lifelong relationship and are there for one another to celebrate good occasions and provide comfort during tough times.   Kathy Wilbert, Blue Star Mother in the Plaquemine area, describes it as “a powerful group”.   She became a Blue Star Mother while her son, SPC Calvin Wilbert III was serving and on deployment in Baghdad.   Kathy says the “power” of the bond among Blue Star Mothers is because, “We all have someone dear to us going through the same thing”.   As a result, they are able to completely understand the feelings of other mothers and can use their individual experiences to offer support and assistance.

The efforts and activities of the Blue Star Mothers are intended to encourage nationalism throughout the community and to let the troops know that they are always being thought of.  There are many different projects and activities throughout the area that the Blue Star Mothers are involved in.  The Blue Star Mothers also encourage participation from other organizations and members of society.   This promotes unity, demonstrates patriotism, and uplifts the troops by providing them with an abundance of community support.

Several local individuals and companies have contributed financially and shown support to the mission of Blue Star Mothers of Louisiana.   In Central, Mayor Shelton “Mac” Watts encouraged the community to become members of the “Mayor’s 100 Club”.   By donating a $100 check or $100 worth of supplies for care packages, individuals, businesses, churches, clubs, and other organizations were able to show their appreciation and assistance to those serving overseas by participating in this outreach.   Last June, WAFB sports announcer, Jacques Doucet, chose Blue Star Mothers of Louisiana to be the beneficiary of the annual Doucet/Begnaud Softball Tournament Fundraiser.   Employees of Blue Cross Blue Shield Louisiana were recently encouraged and made aware of the Blue Star mission by a letter that was sent to the staff from President/CEO, Michael Reitz, prior to Memorial Day.  The letter was intended to remind employees of the significance of Memorial Day and to encourage them to remember those who have served.   Following the distribution of this message, many employees made the honorable decision to make a financial donation to Blue Star Mothers of Louisiana.  The money donated was able to cover the total cost for one hundred care packages to be sent overseas.  

Sending care packages is an important project for the Blue Star Mothers.  This provides the troops with items they need while on deployment and is a great way to show support and let them know they are being thought of.  Items are collected on a continual basis and packages are prepared and mailed out throughout the year.   The goal is to mail out care packages three to five times a year.  Eatel has been an incredible and generous sponsor to the Blue Star Mother’s Care Package Program.  Their kindness is greatly appreciated since the success of the packages relies on donations and assistance from the community.   Kathy states, “Donations have been incredible”, and along with all of the mothers, she is very grateful for the generosity and support of companies and individuals.   For anyone interested in making a donation, Kathy encourages them by saying, “No donation is too small”.   The next mail out of care packages is scheduled to occur in October.  For more information on this project or to make a care package donation, contact Kathy Wilbert at kathywilbert@cox.net or (225) 687-6211. 

Blue Star Mothers of Louisiana participate in a wide array of events throughout the region.   They participate in Wreaths across America, Port Allen’s Veteran’s Day Parade, and have involvement in several other events in the local area that honor Veteran’s Day.   They have a close relationship with the USS Kidd and volunteer at various events that are held there.  Whether they are providing support to other military mothers in the region or participating in a community event, Blue Star Mothers of Louisiana represent and honor the military in all that they do.