Losing a son or daughter in the military is one of the hardest things a parent will face; and in many instances there's nowhere to turn to. But one Bay County organization is working to fill that void.
Seven years ago Thursday, the lives of Federick and Sue Hasse changed forever. "Nobody realizes what that knock does. Just two soldiers standing there, and you know, they don't have to say a word."
Two representatives from the Army came to deliver the worst news any parent could hear.
"I got robbed, he was wonderful." Libby Busbee, a Bay County resident says. Her 23-year-old son took his life, two months after his tour in Iraq ended.
"He seemed fine, he was just having a lot of nightmares and out of the blue, he pulled up in the driveway and called the police to keep me away." Busbee says.
This weekend, 40 gold star families are in town for a retreat to cope with these challenges. Since World War I, the Department of Defense used the Gold Star Program to identify widows and parents who lost a member of the military.
During the retreat, families are given a chance to vent and talk with those who have similar stories.
"We bond together because we understand these differences that are much more than the civilian world." Deborah Tainsh says
Tainsh has been a champion for military families and continues to fight for those under served. Tainsh says there is a great need for veteran outreach. The VA estimates a veteran commits suicide every 80 minutes.
"We're going to support each other and keep going in the name of our fallen warriors." Tainsh says.
The culmination of this weekend's retreat will be held on Saturday night at the Edgewater Beach Resort. About 10 local Iraq and Afghanistan veterans will also be there to garner support from the community.