Published: September 25, 2021
Recognizing Gold Star Families Today and Every Day
Military life is unique and challenging for so many reasons. One of them is the worry that settles into your gut when your service member steps on the plane routed for a combat deployment. Making it through this time apart looks different for everyone — even when you’re surrounded by people. It’s easy to feel isolated. Some check things off their to-do list, travel, or concentrate on personal or professional development. Others simply get by one day at a time. No matter what, one thing that’s constant is the dread of hearing that unimaginable knock on the door or devastating phone call as nearly 7,000 families have received since 9/11.
Gold Star spouse Krista Simpson Anderson remembers receiving that devastating call. Her late husband, Staff Sergeant Michael Harrison Simpson, had been deployed for just 20 days to eastern Afghanistan with 4th Battalion, C Company, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), when he was wounded. He would succumb to those wounds, passing away five days later. Through her pain, she felt extreme pride for the service and sacrifice of her late husband. It’s that pride that drives her to continue to honor him more than eight years later.
While navigating such a difficult time, Krista was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the military and civilian community — the care they showed her and her two young sons who were just three and one at the time. “I remember meals arriving on our doorstep every evening for nearly two months along with messages filled with condolences and encouragement,” Krista shared. “I was amazed by the courageous spouses who continued to show up and serve my family. These men and women, whose spouses were also deployed, feared receiving the same knock on the door that I did, but yet, they never wavered in their support, showing up for us every single day. Organizations like Green Beret Foundation, Special Operations Warrior Foundation, USO, Fisher House Foundation, and wear blue: run to remember stepped up immediately to be there for my family through the most difficult time of our lives. I knew right away that I wanted to honor Mike by bringing awareness to these phenomenal groups and organizations.”
Our nation’s philanthropic community is robust and has the ability to provide support in ways most don’t even know they need. Krista has dedicated her career to helping the military community, Gold Star families, and raising awareness of the important organizations that provided her family so much comfort after losing Mike. She co-founded a nonprofit called The Unquiet Professional — an organization committed to providing healthy and empowering opportunities for Gold Star and surviving families, Veterans, and military families. She’s raising awareness of the resources and institutions available to support these families and providing referrals and connections to address immediate needs. Krista is proud of the beautiful work that came from such a difficult place, especially as it relates to the support she provides to fellow Gold Star and surviving families in the aftermath of loss.
After all, speaking up and making noise about the strength and resilience of the military community is exactly what Mike would have wanted. “Mike’s team and company nicknamed him ‘The Unquiet Professional’ because of the pride he had for special forces,” Krista recalled. “Green Berets are known to be ‘Quiet Professionals,’ but Mike was so proud to follow in his father and brother’s footsteps, he would tell everyone. The military was a family business, and he was thrilled to carry on the torch. It is a gift to carry on Mike’s legacy by serving others.”
In addition to The Unquiet Professional, Krista volunteers her time with the Green Beret Foundation as their Gold Star and Surviving Family Liaison and board member and is proud of her work with the Army’s Survivor Advisory Working Group. A group where a diverse group of surviving family members are asked to advise the Army on gaps in the casualty process. “It doesn’t get much better than having an inside view of the incredible work the Army does to evolve in their support of Army Gold Star and Surviving Families,” Krista said. “There is always work to be done but to see how much our senior leaders care about creating change is a true gift.”
Continuing that mission is a top priority for Krista, especially as she remains connected to the Green Beret community, re-marrying to an Army Special Forces soldier in 2017. It was in that same year that Krista’s husband deployed, landing in Afghanistan exactly four years to the day of Mike’s death. Fortunately, he returned home safely and continues to serve. Years later, Krista’s commitment to the military community hasn’t wavered. “Being a part of a military family gives us the opportunity to serve something bigger than ourselves,” Krista shared. “It’s hard to explain that it’s not just a job. It is bigger than that and the sacrifice is worth it. Then and now.”
To all of our nation’s Gold Star families, we honor you and remember your fallen, today and every day. We’re grateful for your service and dedication to our country and the sacrifice of your loved ones. We will never forget.
Learn more about how you can support Gold Star families, those currently serving, and Veterans alike at www.bluestarfam.org.