A Sisterhood Of Grief

Memorial Day puts the focus on the men and women who have died in service to this country. It's also a time to acknowledge the many families who continue to bereave the loss of a loved one.

CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier recently went to Killeen, Texas, home of Ft. Hood, to spend time with a group of women who have come to rely on the support of one another.

Killeen is a town of two distinctions.

It is home to America's largest military base, and the highest number of casualties of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There are also about 200 military widows in Killeen.

Many of these women were photographed and profiled for a story in last month's Glamour magazine. A few later sat down with Dozier to share their experience of being a widow to war.

Kimber Gordon, Linnie Blankenbecler and Ursula Pittle all lost their husbands in Iraq.

"I remember going into my backyard and howling like an animal because it hurt so bad," said Blankenbecler.

What followed was a grief so deep that she tried calling people to talk about her feelings, but she just couldn't say anything.

For Gordon, her first reaction was denial.

"I came up to Fort Hood when my husband's guys came home. And I met the buses. And as each one of 'em came in, I remember looking for my husband's face," she said.

Pittle and her husband had been married ten months when he died. She was eight months pregnant with their daughter.

"You're just numb in the beginning. You know, because I was pregnant, I couldn't stop eating, even though I wasn't hungry at all," she said.

Many military women don't just lose their husband; they lose their way of life, too. Others in the community often shun the women's grief, out of fear.

With a husband in Afghanistan and son in Iraq, Army wife Debbie Busch made it her mission to bring the families of the fallen back into the fold.

"We want the families to be cared for. We want to take care of them. We want them to have a place to come," Busch said.

That place is the Gold Star Family Support Center, located on base at Ft. Hood - across from a memorial dedicated to many of their husbands. Making them welcome here means they stay in a community that "gets it."

Remaining part of the community has helped many of Killeen's military widows move on.

Gordon opened a café in town, and Pittle keeps her energy going as a fitness instructor.

Some of the women have begun to move on and started dating, while others aren't ready.

"There's that 'It gets better with time,'" said Gordon. "It doesn't."

Still, the routine of life continues, and these widows of war remain committed to those soldiers who have dedicated their lives for country.

"You don't have to support the war to support the troops," Gordon said. "But there's a gentleman who puts on that uniform every morning."

The Gold Star Family Support Center is funded by private donors and is run by the loved ones of service members.


For more information, or to make a donation, visit the Gold Star Family Support Center Web site..
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