BATON ROUGE – Gold Star families, the surviving family members of military personnel who died while in an active-duty status, often times fear their loved ones will be forgotten. The Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs (LDVA) is committed to ensuring that does not happen for Louisiana Gold Star families.
“LDVA’s mission is not only to take care of Louisiana service members and veterans, but also to care for their families,” said LDVA Secretary Joey Strickland. “Our new Gold Star Representative Jennifer Hahn, a Gold Star spouse, is moving us forward in accomplishing that mission.
Leading one of the first state department-led Gold Star programs in the nation, LDVA’s newly-hired Gold Star Representative knows first-hand that freedom comes at a price.
On May 24, 2005, her husband, Louisiana Army National Guard Sgt. First Class Peter J. Hahn was killed-in-action while deployed to Baghdad, Iraq with the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
Newly-widowed and completely distraught, Hahn was forced to raise their daughter, Katelyn, on her own. “I told myself it would never happen to me, but it did,” says Hahn. “The day I was notified was the worst day of my life. The knock on my door, the earthshattering news, and then having to tell our five-year-old daughter that her daddy would not be coming home is not something you ever fully recover from,” she said.
“We want to let Louisiana’s Gold Star families, like the Hahns, know they will always be connected to their military family, and that we will help take care of them,” said Strickland.
Gold Star families mourn the loss of their service members who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country, and for that we are indebted to them. It is the LDVA’s hope that our Gold Star representative can ease that burden and help connect them with family’s that have been where they are.
In this newly-created role, Hahn is responsible for planning special projects that will support Louisiana’s Gold Star families. She will advocate for these families, attend various memorial monument dedications, annual fallen service-member memorials, and community remembrance events in order to better understand their specific needs and challenges.
Hahn is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with local, state, and national agencies and organizations that can support Gold Star Families. In addition, she will stay well-informed of available resources that can potentially aid surviving families.
“I feel blessed to be able to honor my husband by helping veterans and other families like mine as LDVA’s Gold Star Representative,” said Hahn. “Time does not heal all wounds, and we need to rely on each other for comfort and guidance. It is my hope to be able to do that for fellow Gold Star families.”
Many times, during Memorial Day ceremonies held across the county, Gold Star families stand with the nation to honor their own service member, while struggling with the personal grief of losing a spouse, adult child, parent, sibling or grandchild.
“This position was created through the genuine compassion and support for our military by Gov. John Bel Edwards and LDVA Secretary Joey Strickland,” says Hahn. “This is a testament that the State of Louisiana has not forgotten those of us left behind, and that our loved ones will not be forgotten.”
LDVA Secretary Joey Strickland cordially invites Gold Star families, veterans, service organizations, and community members to LDVA’s Gold Star Family program’s first highlighted event. The Louisiana Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day recognition ceremony will be held at10:30 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 29, at the Louisiana Veterans Memorial Park, located beside the Old Arsenal Museum on the State Capitol grounds.
All Louisianans are encouraged to help recognize the sacrifices that all Gold Star Family members make when a father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter, or other loved one dies in service to the nation.
For more information on this event, please contact LDVA’s Gold Star representative, Ms. Jennifer Hahn, via email at: Jennifer.Hahn@la.gov or by calling: (225) 219-5006.
“It is comforting to know that across LDVA, our team is personally committed to ensuring that the Louisiana Gold Star community has the resources they need,” said Hahn. “I am personally committed to being a listening ear and a helping hand to provide our Gold Star families with the answers they seek to help keep them at peace for their future, and that of their families.”