Our Founders Story

America’s Gold Star Families – Our Founder’s Story

America’s Gold Star Families (AGSF) had its humble start back in 2007 when Patti Latch, a military Mom from central Illinois, had an opportunity to interact with three grieving gold star families at the funerals for their fallen sons and simply asked “What can I do to help?”

Their responses were the same… to help make sure that others never forget the sacrifice their loved ones made for our freedom. And she’s been doing that ever since.

Patti Latch is the proud Mom of two Marines. Between them, her sons served three tours of duty in Iraq between 2005-2007. After they both returned home safely, Patti felt deep compassion for families who lost loved ones in the central Illinois region where they lived. Realizing there was nothing formal in place to provide comfort for these families, Patti started attending funerals of the fallen, introducing herself to the families and letting them know that she cared and would be available to them in the months and years to come for support. She had no idea what this would look like, but even if she helped just the four Gold Star parents she had met, she felt that she was called to this noble cause.

Word spread to other bereaved families and informal get-togethers started, building connections on shared experiences, and reminding them that they were not alone.  From that compassionate start, Central Illinois Gold Star Families was incorporated as a not-for-profit (501 (c) 3) organization in 2014, creating public awareness of the presence of Gold Star families among us by offering emotional and financial support.

Shortly after, the name Central Illinois Gold Star Families evolved to America’s Gold Star Families to include survivors nationwide. Today, America’s Gold Star Families serves those who have experienced any military loss through active-duty service from all branches of the US military, representing all conflicts.  Bringing families of the fallen together to honor their sacrifice and provide hope and healing allows survivors to bond with others who have experienced a similar loss.  AGSF is funded entirely by individual and Corporate donations and is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, with oversight provided by a Gold Star Advisory Council.  Patti Latch serves as the Executive Director of the organization, ensuring our commitment to our Mission and keeping her promise to “never forget.”

AGSF provides support, resources, and programs to survivors of active-duty military loss through these programs:

  • Sending annual Birthday Cards to children across the USA who experienced the loss of a parent during active-duty military service, along with a $20 gift card to celebrate their special days.
  • Awarding 25 $1000 scholarships to dependents of Fallen Heroes across the US to pursue higher education
  • Creating Ornaments to display on our annual Holiday Heroes Trees of Honor
  • Underwriting grief counseling for Illinois residents
  • Displaying Fallen Heroes Banners (currently in Washburn, Bloomington/Normal and Pekin, IL)
  • Creating Walls of Honor in retail stores
  • Working with local legislators to rename highways after Fallen Heroes and erect Gold Star Highway/ByWay Markers