By Kyle Malloy, Special Contributor to Navy Installations Command Public Affairs
WASHINGTON – Navy Gold Star families took a guided tour of the United States Naval Observatory (USNO) recently, where they visited the command’s facilities and learned about how its scientific research continues to advance the U.S. Navy’s mission.
This first-of-its-kind event offered Gold Star families the opportunity to reconnect with one another while getting an in-depth look at how the Naval Observatory is essential to providing accurate navigation and communication for U.S. Navy and Department of Defense assets.
“Events like this are important,” said Rachel Doran, Navy Gold Star coordinator. “It helps keep them connected to the Navy and to other Gold Star families while providing them a Navy experience.”
The group learned the history of the command, visited the command library, and how the observatory’s work has influenced modern digital technology and GPS navigation. The tour ended with each family member being provided the opportunity to gaze at the moon through one of USNO’s most sophisticated telescopes.
“We try to make it fun for everyone attending our events,” said Doran. “Plus, how cool is it to see the moon and the Washington, D.C. skyline so up close and personal?”
Doran added, events like this keep Gold Star families involved with the active-duty community.
“The families really enjoy coming together at these events,” said Doran. “They can relax without any obligation to discuss their feelings or retell their stories.”
Gold Star family activities are vital to the connection they have with their deceased loved ones, especially the surviving children.
“In a way, being here allows Gold Star children the opportunity to learn more about the life of their now deceased parent,” said Doran. “Many of them were young when their parent died, but being here with a strong Navy presence allows them to feel connected again.”
Navy Gold Star is the Navy’s official program for providing long-term support to surviving families of Sailors who pass while on active duty. Navy Gold Star is an inclusive program ‒ it assists family members regardless of their loved one’s military service branch, location or manner of death. Navy Gold Star support coordinators provide dedicated outreach and support when, and for as long as, the service member’s family needs assistance.
(Kyle Malloy is a contributing writer for the Fleet and Family Readiness Marketing and Communications Department under Navy Installations Command)