Gold Star Families


America’s Gold Star Families is a 501©3 not-for-profit organization created to provide honor, hope and healing to those grieving any military loss through active duty service. We include all family members representing all conflicts, all branches of service and all circumstance of death.

IRS EIN 46-5574571.



Mission Statement

America’s Gold Star Families honors our fallen heroes who served in the United States Armed Forces and cares for their survivors through programs and services at no cost to the survivors.

Advocacy and Awareness

Many people are unaware of the significance of the Gold Star banner and its meaning. America’s Gold Star Families is committed to educating others on this important designation, how to properly respond when meeting someone who has lost a loved one in service to our country and advocating for their needs.


America’s Gold Star Families is governed by a Board of Directors which serves under the oversight of a Gold Star Advisory Council comprised of gold star family members and survivors. This is to insure the Board properly meets the needs of survivors adequately with appropriate protocol.

Gold Star Advisory Council
Kathy Bastean, Gold Star Mother

Brenda Desilets, Gold Star Mother
Dale & Mary Ann Nannen, Gold Star Parents
Don & Robyn Pannier, Gold Star Parents

Board of Directors
Patti Smith, MBA, President

Billy Halstead, Vice President, Chairman Peoria County Democrats
Mary Ardis, Secretary
Kent Rotherham, CPA, Treasurer

Scott Corsaut, US Marine veteran
Chris Doscotch, Attorney at Law, US Army veteran
Steve Sonnemaker, Peoria County Clerk
Dennis Tipsword, US Coast Guard Veteran, Current Vice Chairman National American Legion Veterans Employment and Education Commission
Greg Smith, Real Estate Investor

Honorary Board Members
Kevin Lacz, US Navy Seal, American Sniper co-star

Lt. Col. (Ret.) Lester D. Bergsten, United States Air Force
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Jack McManus, United States Marine Corps
Aaron T. Boyer, MD, former Major United States Air Force


Call 309-231-5090 for more info. All sponsors are listed on our website.

About the Founder

Patti Smith is a double blue star proud Mother of two US Marines who are now veterans. When her two sons enlisted in the United States Marine Corps within six months of each other, she received a crash introduction course into the military community. The emotional roller coaster of send off’s, boot camp graduations, writing letters, deployments, sending care packages, supporting other military families, homecomings—all occurred within a few short years. At one point both sons were deployed to Iraq at the same time. These life changing events altered the course of her life forever and while her sons now lead productive civilian lives, Patti serves as support advocate for Gold Star families and survivors everywhere. Along with their two sons, Patti and her husband Greg also have two daughters and several grandchildren.

Patti Smith Bio

Peoria Memorial Association, President
18th Congressional District Veterans Advisory Council
National Gold Star Memorial Marker Chairman for National Garden Club
Marine Corps League Lifetime Membership
American Legion Auxiliary Limestone Post 979 Member
AMVETS Post 64 Member
Peoria Chiefs Baseball Club/Uftring Chevrolet Veterans Liaison 2011-2018
Former Honor Flight Board Member, two time Guardian
Heartland Hero Award, American Red Cross 2016
Citizen Patriot Award, Goodwill Industries 2015
America’s Gold Star Families Founder 2013
Entrepreneur of the Year, Women’s Council of Realtors 2012
Rising Star Award, Jim Maloof/Realtor 2012
Rookie of the Year, Peoria Area Association of Realtors 2012
Master in Business Administration, Bradley University 2010
Quality Citizen Recognition Program Recipient and Challenge Coin issued by United States Marine Corps Commandant James, T. Conway 2009
Certificate of Appreciation issued by State of Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs 2009
Led State Department sponsored forum with six European Security/Defense officials including reps from Lithuania, Portugal, Estonia, United Kingdom Montenegro and Slovenia 2009
Grand Marshall Peoria Heights Veterans Day Parade 2008
Literary contributor, Battlefields and Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from the War In Iraq & Afghanistan by Jane Hampton Cook, Jocelyn Green and John Croushorn, 2008
Homefront Hero Award recipient issued by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn 2008
25 Women in Leadership Award recipient WEEK-TV NBC Affiliate 2007
Chartered first Illinois Blue Star Mothers of America Chapter 2006
Introduced Wreaths Across America to Peoria, IL area 2006
Operation Santa Founder 2005