Gold Star wife says Trees for Troops program helps her family cope during holidays

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WTVD) -- Holiday joy could be seen and heard on Fort Bragg Friday morning. Trees for Troops donated Christmas trees to soldiers and their families ahead of the holiday at Smith Lake Park.

While it is a moment filled with joy, this time of year is a painful reminder of loved ones lost for many.

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"Being a Gold Star family, holidays are hard. And so, anything we can get to help make it easier is wonderful," said Gold Star wife Lynn Paljarvi.

Sergeant Juha Paljarvi started his army career as a helicopter technician. The family moved to Fort Bragg in 2017 so he could continue his career as a Special Forces soldier. In October of that year, the family lost their soldier to suicide.

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These three years without Sgt. Paljarvi have not been easy. The family has chosen to move forward in his absence by ringing in the holidays together.

"It helps us to create new and more joyful memories around this season as we can do something together," said Paljarvi.

Fort Bragg distributed a total of 450 trees to junior enlisted soldiers, of which 25 of the trees went to Gold Star families.

"Doing anything with the military keeps them connected and keeps them a part of our family, which they are. Getting a tree really does embody the spirit of Christmas," said Fort Bragg MWR director Lori King.

As families begin celebrating the holidays at home together, Paljarvi asks they hold their loved ones tighter while remembering families like hers.

"I appreciate the thought. We have made a sacrifice too," she said.
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