Gold Star Families Day

Gold Star Families Day, observed on the last Sunday in September each year, is a national day of observance in the United States that honors and recognizes families, like my own, that have lost loved ones while in service to our nation.

As this day approaches, Ankura's Veterans Council and the broader community have offered me the privilege and honor to share the significance of what this day means to me and my family, by sharing the memory of my father. The Veterans Community at Ankura strives to bring awareness and education across the organization in the belief that understanding leads to greater diversity. By sharing my story, I hope to raise awareness for Gold Star Families Day and honor the memory of my father, other fallen heroes who have served, and their families.

Father, Mentor, & Best Friend

My father — Air Force Lt. Col. Bryan Hasty — was raised by his grandparents in rural Appalachia. He graduated high school and immediately enlisted in the Air Force. Just one month after his 18th birthday, he was on a bus to San Antonio, Texas for basic training. While working the swing shift in an electronic maintenance unit, he took college courses part-time for seven years until he finished his bachelor's degree. After being commissioned as an officer, he would spend the next 20+ years leading at multiple levels in support and operational units while earning three master's degrees and a Ph.D.

Despite all of those accomplishments, when I picture my father and draw on the memories of my childhood, I picture him as a young officer in his early 30s much like the photo here. At that time, I was barely in elementary school, but the image of my father is one of confidence, character, and steadfast integrity. The irony of that image is that years later my father would remark, "I was a brand-new officer, a leader of almost a hundred people, with a wife and two kids at home depending on me to provide. I was anything but confident. I was trying to just hold on, and at times it felt like I was barely doing that." My father's candor aside, I can't help but believe that the image he conveyed was so much more impactful than he acknowledges. His confidence gave me confidence. His character formed the basis of my moral and ethical beliefs today. His integrity, the drive to do the right thing at all times, sticks with me to this day.

In January of 2015, while still serving as an installation Chief Information Officer & Deputy Chief of Staff, my father passed away after an eight-month battle with Liver Cancer. To this day, I still remember getting a frantic phone call from my mother urging me to rush to the hospital. I can feel the freezing January air and slick ground from a fresh coat of snow as I ran as fast as I dared across the parking lot. My grip still strains as I think about sitting next to a hospital bed grabbing my father's hand and squeezing harder and harder in hopes it was all just a dream. But it wasn't a dream. I had lost my father, mentor, and best friend.

Regardless of the circumstances, losing a loved one is always devastating. Gold Star Families Day is important because it allows families to remember their loved ones and share their memories. In many ways, it helps keep those lost family members, those loved ones, alive. So this Sunday, September 25th, take time to remember those families who continue to pay the ultimate price.

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