Ferris woman is installed as officer of Blue Star Mothers of America

By Patty Hullett
For the Daily Light

Ferris native Cheree Douglas Barrett is a proud American who volunteers and participates in several United States political and service-oriented organizations in her local area. She is also led to involve herself in national groups as well.

Barrett has a passion for military service members, especially since she lost her veteran son, Jame Barrent, in a tragic PSTD death. Her passion is now to help others that might be experiencing some of the heartache that accompanies service member deaths — both in military action here and abroad, and sometimes back in the States in the after-effects of war trauma.

Cheree's son, James R Barrett, who lost his battle to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder five years ago.

Barrett is the current president of the Bluebonnet Blue Star Mothers, which represents Southern Dallas County and Ellis County. She recently returned from the 78th Convention of the Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc., which was held in New Orleans from Aug. 2 to Aug. 7. The group consists of mothers and female relatives of servicemen. Barrett not only participated, but was nominated and elected as one of their newly installed national officers.

Cheree Barrett, second from left, at the 78th Convention of the Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. Barrett was elected as a national officer during the event.

As done in all previous convention settings, the delegates are chosen from chapters throughout the United States. The convention was not held in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, so the convention body had two years of business to conduct this year. Around 175 delegates had their credentials verified and were seated to handle the business of the convention.

Barrett attended as an approved delegate. She shares, “Nominations were accepted, and I was nominated from the floor. After voting and a runoff took place thereafter, I was elected as national third vice president of the national group. ... This particular vice president handles the notices from the U.S. Department of Defense when a service member has been killed. A Gold Star flag is then ordered for presentation to the family and their names added to the service members who are mentioned in the memorial service annually.”

Cheree Barrett

She continues, “Besides the convention, we toured the World War II Museum, which was simply wonderful. There was also a Mardi Gras Night for Big Dippers, which awards scholarships annually for active duty, veterans, and Blue Star Mothers. They have a separate National Board.”

Barrett said she was impressed with the last night's event banquet, which included visits by the Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana and also the head of the Veterans Administration in New Orleans. She was excited to be a part of the ladies that presented several checks to the VA executive, as well as 210 bags of toiletries that were collected by the various chapters. These bags were especially packaged to give to deserving veterans.

Cheree Barrett

How the organization began

On Jan. 22, 1942, the Flint News Advertiser printed a coupon asking mothers of servicemen to return the coupon after filling it out. The following Feb. 1, more than 300 mothers met in the Durant Hotel in Flint, Michigan. Capt. George H. Maines, who had conceived the idea for this group, acted as the chair of the first meeting. It was decided that after receiving more than 1,000 responses back from the original ad, that the time was right to form a permanent service organization.

Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. (BSMA), is a private nonprofit organization in the United States that provides support for mothers who have sons or daughters in active service in the United States Armed Forces. It was originally formed during World War II. The name – Blue Star Mothers of America – came from the custom of families of servicemen hanging a banner called a Service Flag in a window of their homes. The Service Flag had a star for each family member in the military. Living servicemen were represented by a Blue Star, and those who had lost their lives were represented by a Gold Star.

Until 2011, membership in the Blue Star Mothers was open to any woman living in America who has a son or daughter (and in some, but not all cases, step children) in the United States Armed Forces, or who has had a son or daughter in the U.S. Armed Forces who has been honorably discharged. At the National Convention held in August in 2010 in Grand Junction, Colorado, under the leadership of National President Wendy Hoffman, a resolution was passed that would forever change membership eligibility. The resolution was taken to Congress in August 2011 and was signed into law Dec. 13, 2011, expanding membership opportunities for more women who have supported service members in new conflicts and different family structures. The law updated the Blue Star Mothers Congressional Charter to include grandmothers, adoptive mothers, foster mothers, and female legal guardians. It expanded membership to mothers whose

children have served more recently, by removing references to specific conflicts; and expanded membership to eligible mothers living outside of the U.S.

The group holds a congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code.