Gold Star spouse honors Sgt. Daniel McCall every day

Army Sgt. Daniel McCall died on October 30th, 2007, serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom

On a fall day in 2007, Brittnay McCall’s life changed forever. It’s been over 15 years, but she remembers that “awful knock on the door” like it was yesterday. It was the moment she was notified that her husband, Sgt. Daniel McCall was not coming home. “It’s something you never get over,” Brittnay said. “You carry it every day.

Two weeks before Daniel’s Bradley Fighting Vehicle triggered a bomb while going over a bridge in Iraq, Brittnay had a video conversation with him over Skype. At the time, Skype was new, so it was a massive moment for the newlyweds, who hadn’t seen each other for over seven months. Brittnay still lights up when she talks about Daniel. “He was very kind-spirited, with one of the best smiles and laughs, too.”

He was a jokester with a fun-loving personality, and that’s just one of the reasons he and a 21-year-old Brittnay hit it off when they met at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Daniel received orders for Fort Benning, Georgia, six months later, leading to a conversation during a routine car ride. “If I asked you to marry me and move with me, would you be able to?” Daniel asked. Brittnay was shocked, but she said yes.

Later, there was a more formal proposal, which included Daniel “taking the ring out of his pocket like it was loose change” as he got down on one knee. Brittnay still laughs about this moment in her life because she asked her fiancé where the box for the ring was, which he had thrown away at his friend’s house. He was young and didn’t think anything of it, but when Brittnay wanted the box as a keepsake, he dug through the trash to find it. That’s just the kind of guy Daniel was.

He wasn’t the only one who lost his life on that day in Iraq. Rush Jenkins and Cody Carver were also killed instantly by the roadside bomb.

Since 9/11, over 7,000 service members have been killed in action, and thousands of men and women like Brittnay have been given a title no one wants: “Gold Star Spouse,” which unfortunately has a stigma attached to it.

“I think it’s important for everyone to acknowledge and realize, the person who lost that loved one, [they have] grieved them every day since that loss,” Brittnay says. “There is not a single day that goes by that they are not on our minds, that we are not thinking of them.”

Sometimes friends and family members are nervous about having conversations with Gold Star Spouses, but staying silent or pretending a tragedy didn’t happen isn’t the answer, according to Brittnay. “We need to know that other people remember. Even though you can’t comprehend the loss, you [can] acknowledge this amazing person and help us remember.”

This is especially true for Brittnay every year on the 30th of October, the anniversary of Daniel’s death. “You think that everyone is going to remember. When you don’t hear from them, you feel like they were forgotten.” She will never allow that to happen. “It’s my responsibility and my duty to share his story,” she says.

Brittnay wants to live her life every day in honor of Daniel and in honor of the fallen. She’s doing that by connecting military families to resources and needs they may have as a Survivor Outreach Services Coordinator in Ohio.

She was recently awarded a military spouse and caregiver scholarship through HOPE to earn her Master of Social Work. It’s been over 15 years since her life path completely changed, but she says you don’t move on from the loss; you move forward.

“Daniel gave me so much to live for. I feel like everything that has happened in my life has been some guiding force from him.”


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