The newly formed Albany chapter of Blue Star Mothers met for the first time last week. Led by Kay Moody and Darlene Ward, the meeting attracted about 30 people describing themselves as mothers, fathers, aunts, cousins and friends of servicemen and women from the Capital District.
After getting the word out through friends and local newspapers, Moody said the response has been unbelievable.
She said she recently received a phone call from an older man who had read about the group, He just wanted to talk -- talk about his grandson.
And that was fine by Moody, who said the Blue Star Mothers is primarily a support group for families with sons and daughters in the military. The nonpolitical group also works to send care packages to servicemen and women, to raise public awareness, and "to show honor and respect for our kids," said Moody.
Loretta Hall learned about Blue Star Mothers from a girlfriend who is also a Navy veteran. Hall has two sons on active duty, both in the Army: Russell, 25, who is presently in Germany between tours in Iraq, and Ross, 22, who is in Iraq now.
"I can't stop the war, but the least we can do is support our kids," said Hall.
Hall came to the meeting because she said she wants to do anything she can to show support for the troops. She gets news from her sons via e-mail, though not as often as she would like. Her younger son's messages, limited as they are, often include a request for something from home.
The goals of the meeting were to discuss upcoming activities, like putting together care packages -- called Freedom Boxes -- and marching in the Bethlehem Memorial Day Parade. Other suggestions were to organize a welcome home group for returning servicemen and women at the airport and volunteering at Fisher House, which provides lodging for the families of wounded veterans close to Stratton VA hospital in Albany.