by Jennifer (Loredo) Ballou

Today is Gold Star Spouses Day, created to honor the loved ones of military servicemembers killed in the line of duty. Each year on April 5, our nation honors and recognizes these spouses who have given so much.

I was given the “title” of Gold Star Spouse almost ten years ago. On June 24, 2010, my husband,  Staff Sergeant Edwardo Loredo, U.S. Army, was Killed in Action while fighting in Afghanistan. Coincidentally, that was the year in which a Senate resolution codified Gold Star Wives Day, later changed to Gold Star Spouses Day to be more inclusive.

Although Gold Star Spouses Day is not a national holiday, many military installations across the globe observe the day in special and unique ways. Not only does this day bring awareness to the tremendous sacrifices made by the spouses left behind, but it is also a day that can educate Americans as to what a Gold Star Spouse actually is. Unfortunately, many do not know and instead of allowing that to upset me, I believe it is important to take more of a positive approach.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that we would lose Eddie that day, just minutes before his 35th birthday. Our lives were really just beginning, and we had so many goals, hopes and dreams to accomplish. Together. But unfortunately, our time was cut short, and I was left behind to raise our children and navigate a new normal. Very early in my grieving process, I committed to doing any and everything I could to honor and continue Eddie’s memory. Doing so has helped me give meaning to this tremendous loss while honoring the hero that he was and is. I am proud to share that almost ten years later, I continue to do just that. I talk about Eddie to our children, families, friends and anyone who will listen. It is not easy and has never been. But with the support of so many people behind me, it feels good and it feels right.

One of the things of which I am most proud is the CrossFit Hero Workout, “Loredo,”  One of the many things you will hear about Eddie from those who knew him was that he loved to workout. So, it was only fitting that a workout was created in honor of him. Included are all exercises anyone can do anywhere (no equipment needed) at any time. You can learn about it in detail below, learn more about our story and see the workout in action. And if you find it in you to take some time out of your day to honor Eddie, or our family, please consider doing so by giving “Loredo” a try.

Becoming a Gold Star Spouse is not something I ever asked for, but it is a description that I will always carry with me honorably. Thank you for remembering Eddie and the many other men and women who gave their lives while serving our great Nation. And thank you for taking the time today to honor and recognize their spouses who also have given so very much.

Master Sergeant (Retired) Jennifer R. (Loredo) Ballou enlisted in the United States Army in 1994 as a dental assistant three weeks after high school graduation. She served for 21 years, retiring in May 2015.  While deployed to Afghanistan, her husband Staff Sergeant Edwardo Loredo was Killed in Action on June 24, 2010. Jennifer is now a certified professional life coach and founder and CEO of A Joyful Life With Jennifer, LLC which helps women Veterans and military spouses navigate change while living a whole and joyful life.  She is married to Command Sergeant Major Omari Ballou and has three children, Alexis, Eddie and Sophia. She resides with her family in Texas.

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