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It comes with a sense of pride and worries that only they can truly understand – and they don’t have to go through it alone.

For decades the Blue Star Mothers of America Inc. have provided a place for moms of service members to connect with each other, while supporting their children. What many local military moms don’t realize, however, is that there’s a chapter right in their backyard – the Blue Star Mothers of Madison County.

“Having a group of moms whose kids are military it makes it nice, because you can go in and they get it,” said Shirl Guiliani, whose son Mike serves in the Navy. “It’s great being able to talk to someone who understands what your service member is going through. It makes a difference. It’s support for you, but there are also things that the group can do to support the service members.”

To be eligible for membership with the 501c3, an individual must be a “woman who filled the role of birthmother, adoptive mother, stepmother, foster mother, grandmother or legal guardian of a service member” currently serving in the armed forces, including Reserve and National Guard, or someone who has served and been discharged. More than 6,000 members belong to 200-plus chapters across the country.

The local chapter meets once a month at the downtown library. When Guiliani was part of the Rhode Island chapter, the group collected items to send care packages to their kids, marched in the local Fourth of July parade to raise visibility for Blue Star families, and participated in Wreaths Across America. Guiliani would like to see the Blue Star Mothers of Madison County perform similar outreach in the community as the group grows.

“I know there’s a lot of people in the area with kids in the military and I would like to see the group grow,” Guiliani said. “There’s so much that can be done for service members. It would be neat to get people involved and to know about the group. It’s easy to say, ‘We support the troops’ but do something to support the troops.”

To join or for more information about the Blue Star Mothers of America, visit www.bluestarmothers.org. To get in touch with the local chapter, email bsmomc@yahoo.com.

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