JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas. —
For the first time in history, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Gold Star parents, Marcy and Wayne Voss, received gold star base access ID cards March 14. As part of an Air Force initiative, Gold Star families are granted unescorted access to Air Force installations to attend base events and continue to receive services from the Military and Family Readiness Center for immediate and long-term emotional support.
“The Air Force reached out to us with this wonderful initiative,” said Marcy Voss. “There are plenty of opportunities for Gold Star families at JBSA.”
Although this access will not authorize holders to use recreational facilities, commissaries or base exchanges, it does permit them to receive care through the Air Force Families Forever program. This platform provides military survivor seminars, grief camps for young survivors, peer mentors and casualty care assistance to anyone suffering the death of a loved one who served in the military.
The Voss family suffered this loss when a KC-135 Stratotanker piloted by their son, Capt. Mark “Tyler” Voss, crashed over Kyrgyzstan May 3, 2013.
“When Tyler was a young child he knew he wanted to fly,” said Marcy Voss. “When he was in middle school he set his goal to join the Air Force and go to the Academy so he could fly and that’s just what he did.”
Tyler graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2008 with a degree in aeronautical engineering. His mother said he loved to fly and his favorite part of serving was the camaraderie within his unit.
While Tyler was flying in Kyrgyzstan, his family became aware of a KC-135 Stratotanker crash in the same area.
“We thought it wasn’t him because we saw on the internet the plane wasn’t from his base,” said Marcy Voss. “But one day when I came home there was a Chaplain and an officer here that told us it was him; sometimes they fly whichever plane is ready to go, not necessarily one from their base.”
The Vosses immediately notified the rest of their family and their pastor came to stay with them said Marcy Voss.
“Our family and the community really supported us,” said the Gold Star mother. “They walked alongside me and listened to my story. The presence of people was very important to me, people conveying their love just by showing up.”
While the love and support started the healing process, the most important part of moving on is continuing Tyler’s service by serving others said Marcy Voss.
“We’ve had a lot of opportunities for service missions with other Gold Star families,” said Marcy Voss. “We’ve built houses in Guatemala and have been to Alaska to do some repair jobs on veterans homes.”
For their part, Tyler’s two siblings both continue their brother’s service by serving in the Air Force. His brother, Forrest, enlisted in the Air Force after graduating from Texas A&M University while his sister Morgan became a commissioned officer after participating in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“We’re very blessed and proud that our other children are continuing Tyler’s service in the Air Force,” said Marcy Voss. “Not only is it a Gold Star families mission, it’s also an important part of the healing process.
“Things never go back to normal after you lose a child, but we’re finding a new normal through service.”