CORPUS CHRISTI, TX, UNITED STATES
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - The survivors of Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (FMF/SW) Raymond L. Blount, who passed away while on active duty, were honored as the first Navy Gold Star (NGS) Family at Naval Health Clinic Corpus Christi (NHCCC) during a ceremony, June 29.
Blount was assigned to NHCCC Emergency Management when he died, June 29, 2011.
A 26-year-old native of San Antonio, Blount completed his most recent yearlong deployment in April 2010 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and reenlisted in the Navy Feb. 18, 2011.
Installation Gold Star Coordinator Corcynthia Williams organized the ceremony, coordinating the family's visit from as far north as Dallas, and told everyone present that the Navy was glad to forward Raymond's legacy.
The NGS program serves the families of all who pass away while on active duty, regardless of the branch of service or cause of death.
The clinic's commanding officer, Capt. Jimmy A. Bradley, met and greeted each of the 13 relatives, praising Blount for his honorable service and remarking about the high regard for each other among Navy family members.
"We are pleased to welcome you this morning to honor Petty Officer Blount," said Bradley. "He will always be one of our shipmates no matter how much time passes."
The NGS program provides Gold Star Families a level of long-term assistance and support not previously available through the Navy. It is enhanced with the active participation of NGS region and installation coordinators, which are the lead agents for actions within the long-term casualty supporting process.
Williams is one of three installation coordinators assigned to Commander, Navy Region Southeast (CNRSE) who coordinate support for 18 installations within the Southeastern United States. She is responsible for families in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.
Williams assumed her new role after Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) launched the new initiative to begin assisting Navy Gold Star Families Oct. 1, 2014.
The term "Gold Star" families comes from the lapel pin, known as the "Gold Star Lapel Button," that was established by Congress in 1965 to identify the widows, parents, and next of kin of active-duty service members who lost their lives in combat, retroactive to World War I.
New is the "Next of Kin of Deceased Personnel Lapel Button," that consists of a gold star within a circle that commemorates his or her honorable service. The gold star is also surrounded by sprigs of oak that represent the branches of the Armed Forces. It is designated for eligible survivors of service members who lose their lives while serving honorable under any other circumstances other than war, retroactive to March 29, 1973.
Coordinators like Williams play an important role providing support for family members through a very difficult time, helping them build resilience and establish a new normal. Guided by the coordinators, Gold Star Families may connect with support groups and grief counselors.
In Blount's case, the family had already weathered much of the agony of grieving, but his dad expressed the appreciation of family and described why they have embraced a much better appreciation for the Navy and Williams' outreach.
"It's important for me to tell you that the Navy was very good for Raymond and he was very good for the Navy," said Raymond Blount about his son. "After I read his performance reviews I was very gratified because up until then I didn't have a measure of his service to our country - he never boasted."
Blount's father continued by describing how his family defined his son's purpose.
"He was someone who was compassionate above the expectations of a corpsman," he said. "He took joy in helping those around him as much as he could. He was a positive influence on our lives, and in his short life, for military and civilians, he made a difference - he tried and he succeeded in making life a little better. I'm proud of him, we are all very proud of him."
On the fourth anniversary of their son's passing, although a somber occasion, Blount's mom, Gina, left everyone with a cheerful thought.
"Raymond's wounds were invisible," she said. "This is a great forum because we can be appreciated for the loss that we suffered. I want you to know that all active duty men and women are heroes to me."
||CORPUS CHRISTI, TX, US
||SAN ANTONIO, TX, US
This work, First Navy Gold Star Family at Naval Health Clinic Corpus Christi honored, by William Love, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.