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.
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).