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Blue Star Mothers need members



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Peggy Desrochers (left), president of the Blue Star Mothers Oakland County chapter, and her son, U.S. Airman Bryan Desrochers. Photo provided. (click for larger version)
December 30, 2009 - While their sons and daughters are serving over there, they're right here – waiting, wondering and worrying.

Only a parent who's been through it knows about the sleepless nights and the endless fears that prey upon the mind when your child is in uniform and in harm's way.

"We love our children unconditionally and wholly, so it's a really rough time when your child's sent to a warzone," said Lake Orion resident Peggy Desrochers.

As president of the Blue Star Mothers of America's Oakland County Chapter 185, Desrochers wants local mothers to know that support is available through this nationally-recognized veterans service organization.

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Chartered in April 2009, the local chapter of Blue Star Mothers meets at 7 p.m. on the last Thursday of every month at Oxford American Legion Post 108 (130 E. Drahner Rd.)

Blue Star Mothers is a nonpartisan, nonprofit group consisting of mothers, stepmothers and adoptive mothers with sons or daughters currently serving or honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces.

Members are dedicated to supporting each other and their children while promoting patriotism.

The group was founded in March 1942 during World War II in response to a newspaper article published in Flint.

Blue Star Mothers derived its name from the Service Flags military families customarily hang in their windows to denote servicemen or women in harm's way during any period of war or hostilities that the U.S. is engaged in.

The official banner, authorized by the U.S. Department of Defense, is defined as a white field in a red border with one or more blue stars in the center representing each family member on active duty.

About two years ago, Derochers joined the Blue Star Mothers chapter based in St. Clair to help cope with her son Bryan's deployment to Iraq.

"There would be weeks between phone calls or emails from my son," she said.

A 2005 Lake Orion High School graduate, Bryan spent four years on active duty in the U.S. Air Force, which included three tours in Iraq. He's now a reservist.

Joining Blue Star Mothers gave Desrochers a way to connect with other military mothers who could talk her through the rough patches and offer a shoulder to cry on.

"It was a saving grace for me to know I wasn't alone in my fears and it was just nice to know there were other people that understood," she said. "They have the same feelings and fears that I have."

Ultimately, Desrochers decided that driving an hour each way to St. Clair was just too much, so she decided to found a chapter right here in Oakland County and conduct the meetings at Legion Post 108.

"I love (Post 108's) facility up there," Desrochers said. "They have all that (military) memorabilia. It's a whole museum right inside this building. It's absolutely fabulous. It's just beautiful."

In addition to devoting time at their monthly meetings to talking about their feelings and giving updates on their kids, Blue Star Mothers members also do what they can to help troops serving overseas.

"Our group kind of adopted the hospitals," Desrochers explained.

Chapter 185's sent items to soldiers recuperating in military hospitals in Balad, Iraq and in Germany. Packages from the group include sheets, towels, wash rags, hair brushes, mirrors, hand-held games, pajama bottoms and T-shirts.

"The needs are so simple for these soldiers," Desrochers said. "You would think it would be a no-brainer for our government to make sure they had those things. But money runs short."

The biggest thing Chapter 185 needs right now is members. It currently has about 10.

"We need membership badly. We're still building," Desrochers said. "As long as their children serve in the military or were honorably discharged, (mothers) can become a member."

Membership dues are $20 per year, half of which goes to the local chapter and the other half to the national group.

In addition to mothers, the wives, sisters, brothers and fathers of military members can join as associate members, however, they don't have voting rights within the organization.

For more information about joining Oakland County Chapter 185 of the Blue Star Mothers of America call Desrochers at (248) 931-1901 or e-mail her at airforcemom48362@comcast.net.

More information is also available at www.bluestarmothers.org.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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