Members of the Blue Star Mothers of Iowa met for their monthly meeting in the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum at Camp Dodge, in Johnston, Iowa, on Jan. 7, 2023. The group is made up of mothers who have relatives who serve in all branches of the military including the Iowa Army National Guard. BSMI does many things for the military community. They put together care packages for service members deployed overseas as well as support events for veterans in their local areas.

However, the biggest thing these dedicated women – “Blue Star Mothers” – do is provide a support group for moms, grandmothers, step moms and legal guardians whose children serve in the active duty military or Reserves, including the Iowa National Guard.

“We are here to not only support the people who serve but to support each other,” said Jen Fletcher, president of BSMI. “When my son first joined the Marines six years ago, it was a great resource for me.”

Each year the organization raises money and collects items for care packages they send all over the world. They also hold a Valentine’s for Vets program in February. Their monthly meetings provide time to plan their events for the year. They also serve as a support group for moms who need both information about the military and an ear to listen and understand what they are going through.

“This group is important to me personally,” said Tina Koestner, secretary of BSMI. “Two of my four children are active duty military. It’s not like sending your kid off to college. My friends who send their kids off to college don’t understand sending your kid off to the military. These are moms who understand.”

During their beginning of the year meeting, the members discussed care packages for troops deployed overseas and decided how they plan to execute all of their plans for the year. They finished the meeting by going around the table updating each other on where their military children are at and how they are doing. Information for this organization can be found at or through their Facebook page, Blue Star Mothers of America – Iowa Chapter.

Programs like this help support the Iowa National Guard’s lines of effort by caring for Soldiers and making sure the families of service members are being taken care of.

“I want to spread the word about who we are and what we do,” said Fletcher. “Being able to talk to people about what’s going on with your kid and having that support is invaluable.”