First, I would like to welcome our members to our newly formatted e-magazine.  It was a joint effort and required a lot of work, but we think you will like it.  Inside this edition you will find news, pictures and other information about the organization and the initiatives we support. We would also like to extend a special greeting to our nation’s wounded, ill and injured: God bless you for your sacrifice.

This past year was a good one for the Silver Star Families of America (SSFOA).  Though financially we are not the richest organization in the country, we make up for that by the hard work of our membership and the dedication of our cadre of volunteers.  In 2012 we passed the $3 million dollar mark in donations of time and material to the Department of Veterans Affairs.  And speaking of membership, we now number almost 6,000 nationally.
The 2012 Silver Star Service Banner Day was a great success and we look forward to May 1st of this year when we will place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. 

In 2012, we continued our established programs for our wounded, ill, injured and dying.  From distributing Veterans Administration food coupons books and other items to our homeless and indigent vets; to our Chaplain’s program that sends prayer blankets to our veterans in hospice; to providing a Service Banner and certificate to our wounded and injured; and, the distribution of donated iPods and MP3 players, cards and letters to our hospitalized heroes, the SSFOA continues to lead the way.

In the coming year we are expanding our programs by partnering with A Fighting Chance, a gym that teaches Brazilian Judo and assists our vets wounded with PTS, and also with Marine Walking, to carry our message to every state in the Union.

In 2013 we will provide more services and assist more veterans and active duty than we ever have—and we can only do it with your help and support.  May God bless you and may He continue to bless the United States.  Steve Newton

The Silver Star Families of America (SSFOA) proudly announces the 2012 recipient of the prestigious SSFOA Commendation Award—actor and musician Gary Sinise. A non-profit based out of Clever, Mo., the SSFOA’s primary mission is to support and recognize veterans who are wounded, injured, or have acquired an illness related to their service in a combat zone—regardless of service branch or military conflict. In keeping with this mission, the founders, president and board of the SSFOA conducted an election process to select the winner for the organization’s premier honor. The annual commendation may be awarded to military or civilian personnel, and departments or organizations that have positively affected the lives of wounded and ill veterans. Nominees must demonstrate one or more of the following:
• Taken action(s) which directly influence the care and well-being of the wounded/ill veterans;
• Influenced policy that has improved or provided services to our nations wounded and ill;
• Strived to increase the benefits provided our wounded and ill;
• Engaged in activities of such a profound nature, they have actually prevented casualties and injuries.
Previous commendation recipients include President George W. Bush, Gen. David Petraeus and Ann-Margret.
Following the most recent selection process, the SSFOA board unanimously selected Gary Sinise to receive this year’s honor for his unwavering support of the military community and persistent efforts to raise money for the country’s wounded warriors through the “Lt. Dan Band.”
“Our military is full of individuals willing to sacrifice themselves on behalf of our great nation,” stated Steve Newton, national president for the SSFOA. “And it is nice to pause and recognize those civilians—such as Mr. Sinise—who selflessly donate their own time and efforts in support of these brave service members.”
“That is why I am pleased to announce Mr. Gary Sinise as the 2012 recipient of the SSFOA Commendation Award,” Newton added.
Plans are being made to present the commendation during the Lt. Dan Band concert to be held in Centertown, Mo., on July 27, 2012.

Gov. Nixon presents three mid-Missouri veterans with Silver Star banners to honor their service and sacrifice

JEFFERSON CITY - In a ceremony today in his Capitol office, Gov. Jay Nixon presented three military veterans from mid-Missouri from World War II, Vietnam and Operation Enduring Freedom with the Silver Star banner and certificate to honor their sacrifice. All the veterans incurred wounds, injuries or illness while serving in combat areas.
"Throughout our state's history, Missourians have demonstrated courage and self-sacrifice while serving in our nation's military," Gov. Nixon said. "These three veterans are among the many who incurred injury or illness while in harm's way, and I am pleased to help honor their service to our state and nation with this award. As we observe Silver Star Families of America Day on May 1, we are reminded of the sacrifices that our military veterans have made, and continue to make, on our behalf."
The Governor presented the Silver Star banners and certificates to Jefferson City residents:
Ralph Kalberloh, of Jefferson City, who served in the Army Air Corps during World War II;
Dewey Riehn (REEN), of Ashland, who served in the Army in Vietnam and who previously had served as a Marine; and
Shams Chughtai (SHAW-muss SHOOG-tigh), of Jefferson City, who served in the Army in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
In July 2009, Gov. Nixon signed House Bill 678, which sets May 1 by statute as the annual Silver Star Families of America Day. Silver Star Families of America Day is designated as a day for honoring the wounded and ill members of the armed forces in the state of Missouri, and for recognizing the efforts of the Silver Star Families of America in honoring injured veterans across the United States.

Senate Approves McCaskill-Blunt Resolution Honoring Service Members, Military Families

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt announced the Senate has approved a resolution sponsored by the Missouri Senators to honor our men and women in uniform who have been injured or become ill in combat and their families.  The bipartisan Senate resolution, which supports the designation of May 1st as national Silver Star Service Banner Day, passed the Senate unanimously yesterday.
“Our men and women in uniform and their families sacrifice so much for this country. Every day we should honor the heroic work of our members of the military, our veterans and their families, but supporting the designation of a Silver Star Banner Day is a very small gesture to recognize that sacrifice,” McCaskill said.
“Across Missouri and the nation, Silver Star Families of America work each day to honor those who have served or made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedoms,” said Blunt. “I was proud to sponsor this resolution, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives last year, and I am proud to cosponsor it in U.S. Senate.”
Silver Star Families of America (SSFoA) is a national non-profit program headquartered in Clever, Missouri that remembers, honors, and assists members of the Armed Forces and their families from every branch of service and from all wars.  SSFoA provides assistance to veterans who have suffered physical or emotional trauma from war and distributes Silver Star Flags and care packages to wounded veterans and their families.  The Senate-passed resolution expresses support for the designation of May 1st as National Silver Star Service Banner Day, calling on communities to hold commemorative ceremonies and to honor the sacrifices made by injured members of our Armed Forces and their families. More importantly, a national day encourages grateful Americans to help the brave men and women in uniform who are now in need of assistance after returning home from combat. McCaskill and then-Senator Bond passed a similar resolution designating May 1st of 2012 National Silver Star Service Banner Day as well. Then-U.S. Representative Blunt sponsored the House-passed version in 2011 as well.

Veterans’ courts flourish despite legislative setback
A recent ceremony at the Pulaski County Courthouse in Waynesville, Mo.,  highlighted the growing support for a new form of justice designed to assist current and former servicemembers—the establishment of the state’s sixth veterans’ court.
“Members of the community and local attorneys pushed for the court,” explained Colin Long, a judge with the 25th Judicial Circuit.
“We noticed many of our veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq suffering from post traumatic stress, and thought it would be great to provide them with the treatment necessary to help them overcome these issues,” Long added. 
Veterans’ courts are based upon the drug court model in which a client receives treatment under a court monitored program rather than participating in the traditional adjudication process.
The veteran may be required to submit to periodic urinalysis testing and report back to a judge on a regular cycle to discuss their overall treatment progress. As often is the incentive with such programs, a client’s criminal charge is expunged upon successful completion of the treatment regimen.
A liaison from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs coordinates with the court to ensure the veteran receives the appropirate level of court-mandated treatment.
   Five other veterans’ courts now operate within the state to include Kansas City, Jackson County, St. Louis, Poplar Bluff, and Texas County.
This burgeoning model of justice aimed at healing rather than punishing veterans continues to spread throughout communities statewide despite falling short of a legislative push at the state Capitol.
Earler this year, Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, filed HB1110, which would have established a state veterans’ court model. The bill overwhelmingly passsed the house with a 149-1 vote, however, then languished in a senate committee and perished at the close of the most recent legislative session.
“The bill appeared to have a high level of support in both chambers and it is disappointing it did not make it through the senate,” Barnes said. “But I view this as a minor setback and will be filing the bill again this year—it’s too important an issue to simply let pass us by.”
At the recent kickoff celebration for the Pulaski County Veterans’ Court, a room teeming with organizations such as the Disabled American Veterans, Silver Star Families of America, and sheriff and police departments, provides some insight as to the extent of support these courts have developed.
“Veterans are trained their entire military careers to do things as part of a team,” said Bill Hardwick, assistant prosecuting attorney for Pulaski County and also a combat engineer officer with the Missouri National Guard.
“When they return from deployment, they often become isolated from that team,” he added. “If they are hurting, it is important that we are able to come together as a community and provide them with a team of resources to then get them back on the path to recovery.”
Jeremy P. Amick is the public affairs officer for the Silver Star Families of America.

Silver Star City of the Year
Commerce City joins the Silver Star Families of America and supports America's military families. The city is honored to fly the Silver Star flag, a shining symbol for sacrifice, honoring the combat wounded, ill and dying members of America's Armed Forces, and bringing remembrance to those so deserving of our thanks.
"We will never forget . . . WELCOME HOME!"