AGIF 71st Annual Conference: Blue & Gold Star Mothers recognized at the Women’s Leadership Recognition Luncheon


By: Megan Way | Photos by Su Phelps
The American GI Forum (AGIF) held its 71st Annual Conference at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino from August 4th to August 7th. The theme of this year’s conference was “Veterans, Women & Youth Working Together for a Better Future”.
The AGIF was originally founded in 1948. It began as a Hispanic service organization that also addressed family issues. That focus shifted when armed services member Felix Longoria, who had died in action in WWII, was refused burial by a funeral director in Texas because Mr. Longoria was Hispanic. The AGIF mission is to promote fairness and equality for all veterans, and to educate veterans to their rights as veterans. The AGIF was Chartered by Congress in 1998, and today the organization is under the leadership of AGIF National Commander Larry Romo.
At this year’s annual conference, the AGIF honored both Blue Star Mothers and Gold Star Mothers at its Women’s Leadership and Recognition Luncheon. Kiii-TV 3 News anchor, Rudy Trevino, was the MC for the luncheon. Congresswoman Dina Titus, NDVS Director Kat Miller, and National Chairwoman of AGIF Women’s Forum, Dora Gonzales, were speakers for the event. Ms. Gonzales spoke of a book written by Melinda Gates, quoting, “When women are provided lift, when we lift each other, women will lift up all of humanity.” Ms Gonzales went on to stress that, “it is essential for us women to continue reaching these high leadership goals to assure women lift veterans, veterans’ spouses, veteran families, and our youth.”
When asked about the formation of the event to honor the Blue and Gold Star Mothers, Conference Coordinator Denise Blanchard stated that the AGIF is a family-oriented organization, having the GI Forum, the Women’s Forum and the Youth Forum. Once she learned that the community of Las Vegas has over 100 Gold Star Mothers, and the AGIF Women’s Forum wanted to honor the Blue and Gold Star Mothers. From that came the idea for the honoring luncheon.
Ms. Blanchard said that, with so many mothers to invite and no budget to fund the idea, she knew that she needed to turn to a friend. And she turned Keller Dixon, Director of Sales for Humana. Mr. Dixon is a member of American Legion Post 76, and one of the founding members of the Veterans Action Group, who works with the Gold Star and Blue Star Mothers for the Summerlin Veterans’ Parade that they host. Mr. Dixon assured Ms. Blanchard that she could count on Humana’s help, and with that help the AGIF Women’s Forum was able to invite every one of the Blue and Gold Star Mothers in Las Vegas. Mr. Dixon says, “Humana of course is happy to be able to step up as we have several services that help a lot of veterans.”
Ms. Blanchard said the honoring luncheon was appreciated by the mothers and their families, as well as by the veterans and AGIF members who attended. Many of the mothers were even moved to tears. Ms. Blanchard said many have told her they were so very grateful for the honor given and were deeply moved by the beauty of the honor provided to the mothers.