News: Gold Star spouses participate in Remembrance Fashion Show
Story by Staff Sgt. Tomora Clark
KILLEEN, Texas- Several widowed spouses from the Fort Hood area participated in the Remembrance Fashion Show at the Killeen Civic Center March 21 benefiting the American Widow Project. The American Widow Project is a non-profit organization that provides support to widows after the loss of a military spouse.
With tears forming, Angela Augustus recalled the last moment she shared with her husband. “I remember it like it was yesterday. We went to bed after watching a soccer game with our son. I woke up at 3:30 a.m., and he was lying next to me snoring. Then I woke up again at 5:45 a.m., and I found him next to my dining room table … not moving.”
Her husband, Staff Sgt. Brandon A. Augustus was a combat medic assigned to 47th Forward Support Battalion, 1st Armored Division. While at home from Iraq on rest and recuperation, he died of natural causes in Baumholder, Germany, Dec. 11, 2008. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
“Losing a loved one is never easy,” said Augustus, after wiping her reddened, tear-filled eyes. “It’s what you do after a tragedy that helps you cope with everyday life.”
After her tragic loss, she moved to Killeen, Texas, from Germany to start over.
“It was difficult to leave Germany,” said Augustus, a Frankfurt, Germany native. “But, I moved to the U.S. to start over, and the Fort Hood area just felt like a ‘Great Place’ to rebuild.”
She currently volunteers at Fort Hood’s United Service Organizations.
“Working at the USO and around soldiers helps me feel like I’m giving back because I received a lot of help from the military in my time of need. Just knowing that I’m contributing to a soldier’s happiness is enough for me,” she said with a smile.
Augustus reminisced about her encounter with a soldier at the USO.
“He looked at me with the biggest grin I had ever seen and said ‘I can have the whole box of Girl Scout cookies instead of just one?’ and I replied ‘Yes’ and I couldn’t help but return the biggest grin that I could muster. Soldiers risk their lives and if you can bring a smile by handing a box of free, Girl Scout cookies then it makes my day. I know in my heart that dedicating my time and giving back to the soldiers is what my husband would have wanted; he would have been so proud of me.”
Although her husband is a fallen soldier, he will never be forgotten.
“People don’t always understand what it is to be a Gold Star wife or family member; my husband may be gone, but he is never far from my heart,” Augustus said, as she touched the gold star pin adorning her clothing over her heart.
The Remembrance Fashion Show is a way for Gold Star spouses to get together in an informal support group setting.
“Although we are brought together by tragedy, I have met some remarkable, compassionate women,” said Denisa Thomas, a gold star spouse and one of the many Remembrance Fashion Show models. “The fashion show helps to not be forgotten; I want to be seen as a person, and not for the tragedy I’ve endured.”
“I am nervous because this is a big event in front of people I don’t know, but I know it’s for a good cause,” Augustus said. “And for a good cause, I would even dress up in a clown suit.”
Thomas added, “Any time I have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of other widowed spouses, I will always participate.”
Both models were excited to participate in the fashion show, not only to benefit the cause but also because it meant so much to their children.
“My son, Bryan who is 9 years old, said to me while trying on the dresses ‘hey beautiful’ and to him I’m a princess and beautiful, and that’s what matters to me,” Augustus said.
Thomas said she gets to have bonding time with her daughter, who is also in the fashion show, before she goes off to college.
As models in the fashion show, both share the positive outlook for walking down the runway.
“I think being in this fashion show is a great honor because we can contribute to a bigger cause—the American Widow Project,” said Thomas. “It’s always fun to dress up.”
“I am looking forward to wearing the colorful dresses, the makeup and hairstyling at the event,” said Augustus. “It’s something new and out of my comfort zone.”