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JOHNSON COUNTY, KS (KCTV) --October 8th, 2006 is the day Debbie Austin learned she lost her son, Shane Robert Austin.


“They were patrolling the city in Iraq and a grenade was thrown into the tank Shane went to go try and toss it out, but it bounced back at him,” says Debbie.


Several soldiers were injured, Austin was the lone casualty.


Making Debbie and the Austin family, a gold star family.


Back in 2006 their support came mostly from the community.


“People from outside the United States were sending me condolence letters and I felt like he was America’s son,” says Debbie.


Now she says it’s her turn to be that same support for those who’ve recently lost loved ones during the recent events in Afghanistan and have unfortunately joined the gold star family.


“They’re not on this journey alone, the journey does not become easier but you do become stronger,” says Debbie.


Debbie has taken her strength and contributed to bringing local memorials like the Gold Star Family’s Memorial Monument in Olathe.


“It was very important for us to bring the awareness of what a gold star family is and by that we keep the memories of our loved ones alive,” says Debbie.


A family Debbie says nobody wants to truly be a part of but are very thankful for.


“We are trying to come together but we are all heartbroken for the new families that we are here to welcome,” says Debbie.