FIGHT­ING FOR GOLD

When Jane Hor­ton moved to DC four years ago, she had no idea she’d be­come the voice of fam­i­lies of fallen sol­diers all across Amer­ica.

Capitol File - - CONTENTS - BY AMY MOELLER

After los­ing her hus­band, SPC Christo­pher Hor­ton, in com­bat, in 2011, Jane Hor­ton grew acutely aware, she says, of the “civil­ian-mil­i­tary di­vide.” Peo­ple didn’t al­ways know how to in­ter­act with her, so she has de­voted her­self to build­ing bridges for Gold Star fam­i­lies and cre­at­ing greater trans­parency for the needs of our ser­vice­men and women. Since mov­ing to DC in 2013, she’s served on the Army’s Sur­vivor Ad­vi­sory board and be­come a ca­su­alty pol­icy ad­vi­sor with the Pen­tagon. Here, she tells us about her fight.

When your hus­band died, it took 35 days to bury him. That’s where your jour­ney be­gan. “When they no­tify you, they come to your door just like the movies. After that, you go to Dover to watch their body ar­rive cov­ered in the Amer­i­can flag. You can’t get near it, you just watch them un­load it and take it to the mor­tu­ary. Then they fly the body back to the hometown of the ser­vice mem­ber. You have the funeral. After that, I had to fly [my hus­band] com­mer­cial to Arlington to be buried. I had no idea what hap­pens, and so many peo­ple don’t.” You’ve worked on des­ig­nated park­ing spots at mil­i­tary bases for Gold Star fam­i­lies and re­mar­riage ben­e­fits. “We are one of the only first-world coun­tries wherein, if the widow or wid­ower gets re­mar­ried, we lose ev­ery­thing—and it’s not just money, but also next of kin sta­tus.” You of­ten ref­er­ence King Leonidas in your talks. “He was the leader of the Spar­tans, and they say that he chose his war­riors based off their wives. He knew if the wives didn’t hold up, that the na­tion would fall. [I want to show] Amer­ica and the troops that, even though we’ve lost ser­vice mem­bers, the fam­i­lies of the fallen are still strong. The troops need to hear that.”

“WE’VE BEEN AT WAR FOR 15 YEARS NOW. IT’S BEEN VERY IN­TER­EST­ING TO BE A WAR WIDOW IN THIS EN­VI­RON­MENT WHERE PEO­PLE DON’T EVEN RE­AL­IZE WE’RE STILL AT WAR.” —JANE HOR­TON

gane eor­ton’s hus­band, SPC Christo­pher eor­ton (top left), died in com­bat on Septem­ber 9, 2011. Since then, her ad­vo­cacy for Gold Star fam­i­lies has taken her to habul with jarine Corps Gen. goseph c. Dun­ford gr., who is the chair­man of the goint Chiefs of Staff (top riƠơt). thile there, she met mem­bers of his team (ƚƛoƯe).

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