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    Remembering a Good Soldier

    Remembering a Good Soldier

    Courtesy Photo | Lt. Col Jason Good, his wife, Terra, and children pose in front of their new home on...... read more read more

    NEW CUMBERLAND, PA, UNITED STATES

    09.22.2020

    Story by Richard Bumgardner 

    U.S. Army Security Assistance Command

    For Terra Good, an Army spouse who is also a Department of Army civilian working with the Security Assistance Command in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, being Army Strong is more than a motto; it is a way of life.

    Over the course of their marriage, Terra and her husband, Lt. Col. Jason Good, a 20-year combat veteran with six tours to Iraq and Afghanistan, spent more than five years apart due to his military duties and assignments.

    “We often mused that the key to a successful marriage was deployments,” Good commented. “Between his schools, field time, pre-deployment training, and deployments, it felt like we were married just a few short years, so I had to be strong.”

    In 2015, Good, her husband, and two children finally settled down together in a small town in central Pennsylvania when Jason assumed command of the New Cumberland Regional office of the Defense Contract Management Agency.

    Good initially sought work as a special education teacher and school administrator but suffered credentialing issues like many military spouses who move a lot. At Jason’s suggestion, she applied for a civil service position with the Army.

    “I ended up as the International Fellows Plans & Operations Officer at the Army War College, at Carlisle Barracks,” she said. “It was an excellent assignment with the most amazing people.”

    Jason, known as Goody to family and friends, fell right into his duties as a regional commander and over the next year became well-known as the face of DCMA after starring in an agency video, “What DCMA Does­.”

    Jason had also been notified that he was selected by the senior service boards to attend the Army War College, a stepping stone to increased senior leadership assignments and responsibilities.

    “He was very proud of that selection which he viewed as a benchmark to a successful career,” Good said.

    Then on Feb. 6, 2018, Jason woke up feeling a little “off.”

    “We thought it was just cold-like symptoms he had been fighting the past few days,” Good said. “He decided to rest a bit longer, but unfortunately he never woke up.”

    The autopsy revealed he had an acute aortic dissection.

    “Jason’s passing was by far the hardest life hurdle I have had to deal with. The support we received from the Army, and the Carlisle Barracks installation, was heartfelt,” she said. “It is a small community and during our tragic time, they embraced us and lifted us up.”

    Good and her family would benefit from that close knit community.

    “The Army has worked hard to improve the casualty assistance process and I was fortunate enough to have a positive experience during a tragic time,” she said. “The installation we were stationed was very small and that yielded immediate support from the garrison personnel and the commanding general. In fact, my casualty affairs officer was a former classmate of Jason’s at West Point, which was an added support and benefit.”

    Being at Carlisle Barracks and working at the War College allowed the Good family to stay immersed in friendships formed by years of shared military assignments.

    In 2019, a promotion opportunity presented itself as the USASAC Liaison Office Program Manager.

    “I applied because I needed a fresh start and felt this position was a way to build on what I had learned at the international program at the War College,” she said.

    Here she was responsible for coordinating, managing and assisting 16 ally and partner Security Assistance Liaison Officers that were assigned to USASAC to support their countries’ foreign military sales cases.

    “The ability to foster relationships with our global partners, and assist the officers and their families to understand and navigate the U.S. systems, is a rewarding job and one I am most grateful for,” Good said.

    The Gold Star: America’s promise to never forget

    “To be honest, I still struggle with the realization of being a Gold Star Family,” Good stated. “I’m still trying to find what ‘right’ feels like for this day.”

    Finding “right” and overcoming grief might be an individual family’s struggle but there are many organizations that are willing to help.

    And Good sees there is a common misconception of what a Gold Star Family is.

    The title, is reserved for families of military members who have died while in uniform, whether in combat or through accidents, illness or suicide. It pays tribute to the military member’s ultimate sacrifice while honoring and acknowledging their family’s loss, grief and healing process.

    Using star flags as a symbol, officially known as service flags, has been common for more than 100 years to denote a family’s military service and history. When a family had someone serving in a war zone, they would fly a white flag with a blue star and red border. When a family had someone die during their military service to their country, they placed a gold star on top of the blue star, leaving a thin blue border, hence the name, “Gold Star Family.”

    To honor those families, Congress in 1936, designated the last Sunday in September as "Gold Star Mother's Day," which was amended by Presidential Proclamation in 2011 to “Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day.”

    Although more service members lose their lives every year to non-hostile circumstances, all made the commitment to serve their country, and it is the families of the fallen that have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

    “I connected with Gold Star spouses of Jason’s classmates at West Point, Class of ‘98,” she said. “This group has been a staple in helping me navigate my way through the healing process.”

    To support families of fallen ’98 classmates, the class developed the98Fund.org, and the Alaska Project, where each year the class flies children of fallen classmates to Alaska for a week of adventure and unity.

    “The focus was to help support the kids through mentorship and build connections with other children who lost their military parent,” Good said. “The children were given opportunities to build their confidence, emotional strength, and to leave there knowing the Class of ‘98 is always there to support them.”

    Alaska is home to the “Gold Star Peak,” a mountain peak located in Chugach State Park that was named as a permanent memorial to these families.

    “During the summer of 2019, the kids and I had the unbelievable fortune to hike this mountain,” Good said.

    “Pain and doubt creep into your mind and body during this almost two-mile trail, with nearly 3,000 feet gain in elevation, however, once we made it to the top - the emotions start to flow,” she reflected, remembering the sounds of dog tags in the wind.

    “There is a monument at the top and each family hung a dog tag with their service members name on it. Then, we stood and listened to the wind blowing our tags, and all of those who climbed before us, like wind chimes in the breeze. To describe how powerful and touching this moment was is not possible in words. You have to experience it, to understand it.”

    The Gold Star pin that families wear is also a connection.

    “It is an immediate understanding of loss, pain and the journey, and an opportunity to engage in dialogue and talk to someone who “gets it,” Good said. “Often when individuals learn what being a ‘Gold Star Family’ means - the conversation stops. Knowing that others understand and still want to talk is priceless.”

    There are no timetables for grief and everyone’s journey is unique. For Good, talking about her husband, carrying on his legacy and sharing his story - that was, and still is, part of her healing process.

    “I hope spouses going through this realize they’re not alone,” she said. “Reach out - engage with others - know that there is a lot of life left to
    live.”

    -----------------

    For more information about the Gold Star program, go to:

    https://www.army.mil/goldstar/

    https://www.defense.gov/Explore/Features/Story/Article/2246026/understanding-the-significance-of-the-gold-star/

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 09.22.2020
    Date Posted: 09.23.2020 16:59
    Story ID: 378490
    Location: NEW CUMBERLAND, PA, US 
    Hometown: AKRON, OH, US
    Hometown: CANTON, OH, US

    Podcast Hits: 0

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