When Emmy McDaniel’s son Clayton joined the Navy after graduating from Oakdale High School in 2013, she became one of many parents who are part of a special group, facing uncertainty as she waits to find out where his career takes him.
Right now, he is stationed in Norfolk, Virginia on the aircraft carrier USS Dwight Eisenhower but, as with all military members, that could change in a hurry.
Looking for some support as her family entered this unfamiliar territory, McDaniel discovered there wasn’t too much in the local area. She sought out the Blue Star Mothers, an organization designed to support military families.
“When I tried to find the closest chapter, I found you had to go to Merced, Sacramento or Fremont,” McDaniel explained.
Knowing she wasn’t the only parent that felt the need for support from families with children serving away from home, McDaniel decided to do something about it.
She has now joined forces with Sharolyn Larson and the two Oakdale residents have started a new local chapter, Mid-Cal Blue Star Mothers. They will meet the last Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. at Larson’s home, 2390 Semillion Court, Oakdale. The next meeting will be Sunday, July 27 and the chapter is open to all interested in the Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Tuolumne county areas.
Blue Star Mothers is a Congressionally chartered Veterans Service Organization, with the goal of supporting the troops, veterans, military families and each other.
“We are trying to slowly get it started,” McDaniel explained of the chapter, noting that their initial meeting in June was more of a ‘steering committee’ gathering, setting some guidelines for the new group.
“You just have to have a child in the military and they don’t have to be active duty, they can be in the reserves,” McDaniel said of ‘membership’ requirements for the Blue Star Mothers. “They can be in any branch of service.”
The monthly meetings will give attendees the chance to share experiences, talk about concerns and, in some cases, get care packages together.
McDaniel said she had heard of the group before but was unaware of all that they do, including some larger Blue Star chapters organizing backpack drives for homeless veterans as well as coordinating large-scale care package deliveries to troops overseas.
“Basically it’s a large support group,” McDaniel said, noting that she and Larson are hoping to get the word out that the group is now in Oakdale to serve the tri-county area.
Anyone with interest in supporting the troops is welcome to attend the meeting and McDaniel said they have received some guidance from a national Blue Star Mothers committee member, who currently lives in San Jose but is expected to relocate to the Oakdale area.
The Mid-Cal Blue Star Mothers hopes to reach out to families throughout the region, McDaniel said, and offer support to those with children in the military.
“We are hoping we can get more interest in it,” she added.
While utilizing Larson’s home for their meeting place right now, the hope is that eventually the group will need a larger venue. More information about the group or the upcoming July 27 meeting can be obtained by contacting McDaniel at 209-595-3764 or Larson at 209-848-0894. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I know of a few moms that have their kids in the military that might want to be part of this,” McDaniel said.