According to a website called, ever since WWI, mothers of fallen soldiers have dubbed themselves as “Gold Star Mothers”. The name derived from the Gold Star, a symbol in the military known for “loss and sacrifice”. Ever since 1936, September 29th has officially been recognized by the Army as “Gold Star Mother’s Day”.

There are some similarities between the traditional civilian “Mother’s Day” and September 29. Both days focus on the bravery and sacrifice that each mother exudes every day of the year. Becoming a mother means putting your children’s needs before your own, and on both occasions, such a service is commemorated and celebrated. Gold Star Mother’s Day celebrates the lives of the mothers’ fallen children, so any grief and guilt is placed aside (but not forgotten) for a while in order to embrace the honorable in which these children lost their lives for their nation.

Congress initially defined a Gold Star Mother as a mother who had lost a child soldier amid combat, or at least in active duty. One Gold Star Mother, Roxann Abrams, lost her son Randy a while after he was discharged from the battlefield

Abrams lost her son Randy in 2009 after he served several tours in Iraq. While Randy survived those tours, he soon developed symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a common mental illness that plagues many active soldiers and war veterans alike. In fact, the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs reports that one in five combat veterans develops Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, either during or shortly after combat. The Mayo Clinic defines PTSD as having three main categories of symptoms: “re-experiencing symptoms,” “avoidance symptoms,” and “hyperarousal symptoms”. These categories can be simplified to describe symptoms of flashbacks and nightmares, feeling of guilt and depression, and insomnia, respectively.

Randy frequently experienced feelings of anger, self-hatred, and guilt due to his flashbacks. His mother recounted how Randy used to experience horrible nightmares and flashbacks surrounding the innocent victims he had killed during combat, and those people would revisit him in his dreams. Unable to take the emotional pain any longer, Randy committed suicide early 2009, a few days before his birthday. He was considered an Active Duty member because a month before he died, Randy was promoted to become a Drill Sergeant, and was told to report of Drill Sergeant School. Abrams said that this type of promotion was only granted to about 10% of all military members, so it was beyond unfortunate to know that such an honorable service was coupled with such tragedy.

One of those organizations is Operation: I.V. Its founder, Roxann Abrams, is a Gold Star Mother who lost her son SFC Randy Abrams in 2009. Randy took his own life after experiencing a PTSD flashback from his service in Iraq. Randy had undiagnosed PTSD- a common occurrence among combat veterans either due to mistakes made by the medical field or simply the individual’s failure to report such grave symptoms.

As a result of her son’s death, Abrams founded Operation: I.V., a 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 2012 that helps combat veterans heal from both PTSD as well as traumatic brain injuries. The organization sponsors a specialized “VIP”, or “Veteran Intervention Plan” program. “VIP” offers ten different rehabilitation programs, including hyperbolic oxygen therapy, service dogs, and anxiety reduction therapy. Additionally, veterans may also partake in programs such as job retraining, business mentoring, and educational assistance. Again, while there is no cure for PTSD, the programs provided by Operation: I.V. can drastically improve a veteran’s mental health and overall outlook on life!

Author's Bio: 

Abigail Fazelat is a contributing writer for Operation: I.V., a non-profit organization founded by Gold Star Mother Roxann Abrams who lost her son SFC Randy Abrams to PTSD. Randy took his own life after experiencing a wartime flashback- an experience not uncommon to any combat veteran. As a result, Abrams founded Operation: I.V. as an “intravenous of help” for other Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, and contemplating suicide. Fazelat has worked for the organization since October 2013 under a pseudonym.