WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — If it was painful for some Americans to watch the Taliban take control of Afghanistan and witness the aftermath of 13 service members killed, it was even more so for those who’ve lost a family member to war.
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Jennie Taylor lost her husband Brent in Afghanistan during an ambush attack in 2018. She remembers vividly the knock on her door when she was informed of his death. “For the Gold Star community, many of us are reliving our knock on the door,” Taylor said.
She was one of more than 100 Gold Star family members to sign a letter calling on politicians and the American public to do better by families like hers. “I think what we’re asking is for Americans to come together. Stop pointing fingers, stop bickering. Stop getting lost in bureaucracy and red tape. And look at, not only how can we help our Gold Star families, how can we help our military,” she said.
The letter calls for politicians on the left and right to stop using Gold Star families as political pawns. It also calls for the U.S. Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs to cut red tape and make it easier for families to get survivor benefits.
But mostly, it calls for civility. Jill Stephenson lost her son Ben Kopp in Afghanistan in 2009. He died while saving six other Army Rangers.
“I didn’t expect to be thanked for my son’s sacrifice. And here that was happening from the ambassador to Afghanistan. Honestly, I started crying,” Stephenson said.
The “thank you” she described from the Afghan ambassador left an impression she said she’ll never forget. It’s the reception she hopes Americans who read the signed letter roll out for fellow Gold Star families.