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Army Unveils 2nd Gold Star PSA During Memorial Day Weekend

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, TX--(Marketwired - May 16, 2014) - The Army announced plans today to release the second of three public service announcements developed to increase awareness of Department of Defense-issued Gold Star lapel buttons and military service-issued Lapel Buttons for Next of Kin of Deceased Personnel, commonly referred to as Gold Star pins.

This Saturday, May 17, Fox Sports plans to air the PSA during a broadcast of the Los Angeles Angels game on Armed Forces Day. The LA Angels will play the PSA in stadium and recognize LA-area Gold Star families. Fox Sports will pay tribute to the fallen and air the PSA on its sports network over Memorial Day weekend.

The pins are designed to signify the loss of a loved one in support of our nation. Although the Gold Star pins have been in existence for decades, many Americans are unfamiliar with their meaning. The PSAs were developed to help educate and inform the public of the significance of the pins.

"It's heartbreaking to think that a mom wearing a gold star might have someone ask her, 'What a beautiful pin, where do I get one?'" said Donna Engeman, a gold star wife who manages the Survivor Outreach Services program for the Army.

"We decided we had to do something to ensure the nation -- the world -- recognizes what that pin really signifies," Engeman said.

The first Gold Star pins PSA was broadcast by Fox Sports in the hour prior to the Super Bowl in February. Since then, the video has been aired on a variety of networks more than 4,000 times, according to Army officials, with an estimated potential audience of more than 800 million viewers.

During Phase II of the awareness campaign, which launches the week of Memorial Day, Engeman will literally take her message cross-country. She and three other representatives from the Installation Management Command, headquarters over the Survivor Outreach Services Program, will travel by motorcycle to the District of Columbia as part of the annual "Run for the Wall" motorcycle rally.

The Run for the Wall is an American Motorcycle Association-sanctioned event in which thousands of bikers ride from California to the Pentagon to raise awareness about prisoners of war and service members missing in action. Engeman will represent Survivors at each stop in the event, and will host a booth in the Pentagon parking lot prior to the annual "Rolling Thunder" motorcycle event, which travels from the Pentagon to the Vietnam Memorial.

"We'll share the PSA wherever possible, at the stops along the way," Engeman said. "I'll also have flags on my bike promoting the pins."

"Again, this is all about awareness. The more people know the pins exist, the better," she explained.

The PSAs consist of documentary-style interviews and narrative stories from real survivors who volunteered to be a part of the project. The voice-overs were provided by Academy-award-nominated actor Gary Sinise.

"We tried to ensure the PSAs reflected the diversity of surviving families as well as honoring their service and sacrifice," said Hal Snyder, chief of IMCOM's Wounded and Fallen Support Services office. "The PSAs include moms and dads, brothers and sisters, children, husbands, wives..."

"The point is you might see a Gold Star pin on just about anyone," Snyder continued, "and we wanted to make sure everyone knows what that pin represents."

The PSAs also serve to gently remind the American public that the freedom they enjoy comes at a cost, Snyder said.

"The call to action is to honor and learn," he explained. "Honor those who have fallen, and learn about a small, but meaningful symbol presented to families who have lost a service member."

Phase II of the outreach plan includes an outreach effort through social media, where visitors will be encouraged to share pictures of their fallen loved ones -- or pictures of their favorite memorial honoring the fallen -- on www.facebook.com/FamilyMWR between Thurs., May 22 and Memorial Day.

During that same time period, survivors of the fallen will be present at a number of events in the D.C.-area, including the wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery, the National Memorial Day Concert on the Mall, and the Memorial Day parade.

Gold Star family members will also take part in the Canadian Afghanistan Memorial Dedication Ceremony, events at Mount Vernon, the World War II Memorial and the Memorial Day parade.

Program managers and survivors across America are also calling on their elected officials to include mention of the Gold Star pins, and their meaning, in any Memorial Day events they might be taking part in at their home towns, districts or states.

"The more people who see these, the greater the opportunity to recognize and honor families of the fallen," Snyder said.

The Army's Survivor Outreach Services program currently supports more than 55,900 surviving military family members. To view the PSA and to learn more about the Gold Star pins, visit www.GoldStarPins.org.

About the U.S. Army Installation Management Command:

IMCOM handles the day-to-day operations of U.S. Army installations around the globe -- We are the Army's Home. Army installations are communities that provide many of the same types of services expected from any small city. Fire, police, housing, and child-care are just some of the things IMCOM manages in Army communities every day. Our professional workforce strives to deliver on the commitments of the Army Family Covenant, honor the sacrifices of military Families, and enable the Army Force Generation cycle.

Our vision: A Ready & Resilient Army: Provide Soldiers, Families and Civilians with a quality of life commensurate with the quality of their service.

Our mission: IMCOM will synchronize, integrate, and deliver installation services and sustain facilities in support of Senior Commanders in order to enable a ready and resilient Army.

To learn more about IMCOM visit www.army.mil/imcom.

William Bradner

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