There is no shortage of thankfulness and appreciation to go around to veterans, and rightfully so. The sacrifices they make for this country are unmatched and amazing, and they truly are the reason why this is the land of the free.
However, not enough is said about the people who raised these soldiers to be the amazing men and women who sacrifice everything for America. Soldiers’ parents wake up each and every day worrying whether their son or daughter might make it home for the holidays.
For many, that worry becomes a reality, and that is why American Gold Star Mothers was started close to 100 years ago.
Back in 1928, Gold Star Moms was formed to help moms who lost their kids during World War I to better cope with this reality by being around other mothers dealing with the same type of loss. Fast forward almost 100 years later and American Gold Star Mothers is still serving the same purpose that it did in 1928, and this nonprofit organization is nationally recognized, as it should.
National President Jo Ann Maitland is at the center of it all, and she is someone who serves the American Gold Star Mothers name well.
“Jo Ann has been on the American Gold Star Mothers Board for 8 years,” former American Gold Star Mothers St. Louis Chapter President Pam Woods said. “She has the experience needed to be a well-rounded leader with the knowledge of many years of Service to AGSM.”
Maitland is dedicated to the cause, and she is always willing to do whatever it takes to keep American Gold Star Mothers running smoothly. She takes the mission of AGSM to heart, and she is a true advocate for fallen soldiers’ mothers – and their families – and how to deal with loss.
“She is all about remembering ALL of the Fallen and the families left behind,” Woods said. “She is not just concerned about her Hero. She loves all Veterans and Active Duty. She is on many boards and serves in the American Legion Auxiliary with a happy heart.”
Maitland’s son, SPC Richard Buckingham Hubbell III, was killed while serving in the Army and deployed in Fort Hood back in 2002, and almost 20 years later she remains the same advocate that she was when she first joined Gold Star Mothers in 2006.
The phrase “gone but not forgotten” runs deep in the American Gold Star Mothers organization, and it is something that means a lot to Maitland, as she believes that all those who have lost their lives fighting for this country deserve to be honored and remembered. She takes her personal experience and uses it to her advantage to help mothers and families dealing with such loss.
She keeps it real, and she helps people understand that it is something that you can get through, as long as you have people by your side to help you through it.
“Jo Ann does not put labels on the Mothers due to the death of their children,” Woods said. “She advocates for all moms.”
In a position such as Maitland’s it can become very easy to forget just how difficult a process losing your child in duty can be, but Maitland is not like everyone else. She knows how to listen, and she is very genuine, understanding and empathetic.
“Jo is a great listener and very patient,” Woods said. “She has a big heart for the loss of our Heroes.”
“Jo Ann is funny and has a big heart,” Woods went on to say. “She is a woman who serves others first.”
This big heart and selflessness are just part of what makes Jo Ann the perfect fit for President of AGSM. She is nonjudgmental and compassionate, and she is always willing to help mothers talk through their struggles.
She does not promise that it will always be easy, either, but instead she assures them that it can and will get better. It takes time to cope, and she is always willing to give them the time of day to talk it through.
“If you were to call Jo Ann, she would stop what she is doing to hear your story and take her own wealth of knowledge to help you,” Woods said. “Whether you are a Gold Star Family, Veteran or Active-Duty member.”
Talk about living out the cause. Maitland does just that each day, and her love and support for every mother and every family member runs rampant. She is the ideal Gold Star mom, and she deserves the recognition for all she does.
“You couldn’t find a better person to lead this almost 100-year-old organization,” Woods said. “If you are looking for a smile in a crowd, just look around and you will see one on Jo Ann’s face. She is an inspiration to many on how to go through this journey.”