How A Gold Star Wife Channeled Grief Into Something Meaningful

Health & Fitness
Photo courtesy of Brittney Hogan

When her husband Hunter died in Afghanistan in 2012, Brittney Hogan needed to find a way to turn her grief into something positive.

Only 21 years old, Hogan realized she had her whole life ahead of her and needed to do something more.

“I knew that I had only two choices: I could give up completely, and feel sorry for myself the rest of my life, or I could take this struggle and turn it into strength,” she wrote in her website’s biography.

That line of thinking became the basis for her business — an athletic apparel line called Virago Fitness.

Related: Veterans love yoga »

The word “virago” is an archaic English word, and although it has largely fallen out of use, it means strong or spirited woman, or female warrior. Originally, Hogan discovered it through a friend’s Instagram account name, she told Task & Purpose in an interview.

Having been through so much with the loss of her husband, Hogan clung to the word. After a year of spiraling downward, she turned to fitness to pull her out from rock bottom, and “virago” became the inspiration for her now-thriving apparel line.

As a result, “turn your struggle into strength” is the company’s motto.

The company, which started in 2014, has helped Hogan overcome her grief and find a sense of broader purpose.

“I just wanted to be a business owner my whole life,” Hogan said. “In this day and age, it’s really easy to start a business online.”

When she realized how important the work felt, Hogan quit her job as a wedding coordinator to focus full time on the fitness apparel. Once she was able to dedicate all her attention to it, Virago Fitness took off, becoming a fully sustainable company in less than two years.

Hogan encouraged others who are grieving to find something they are passionate about and use it to move forward in the wake of major loss.

“Nothing you can do can change what happened or what you’re going through. You just have to move forward,” she said. “For everyone, it’s different. I think you just have to be honest with yourself and be really reflective.”

For her, fitness became a way to cope with the loss of her husband, and ultimately led to the foundation of her business.

“Get involved with something that you’re passionate about,” she said. “It might not be fitness for some people, it might be something else.”

But whatever it is, she added, it just needs to be something you can focus on that gives you a sense of purpose while you’re grieving.

Now that Virago Fitness is self-sustaining, Hogan donates a portion of its revenue to the USO and the HD Hogan Memorial Rodeo Scholarship Fund, in honor of her husband.

“Virago Fitness is my way of giving back to Hunter, our military, and everyone out there that is struggling with something in their life,” she said.

Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Karl Munson pilots a 26-foot boat while Petty Officer 2nd Class Gabriel Diaz keeps an eye on a boarding team who is inspecting a 79-foot shrimp boat in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of New Orleans, La., on April 27, 2005

Radio transmissions to the U.S. Coast Guard are usually calls for help from boaters, but one captain got on the radio recently just to say thanks to the men and women who are currently working without pay.

Read More Show Less
REUTERS/Carlos Barria

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Saturday to receive the remains of four Americans killed in a suicide bombing in northern Syria.

Trump, locked in a battle with congressional Democrats that has led to a nearly month-long partial government shutdown, announced his trip via a pre-dawn tweet, saying he was going "to be with the families of 4 very special people who lost their lives in service to our Country!"

Read More Show Less

A low-flying C-17 gave Nashville residents a fright on Friday when the aircraft made several unannounced passes over the city's bustling downtown.

Read More Show Less
George W. Bush/Instagram

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Former President George W. Bush is calling for an end to the partial government shutdown, which is about to hit the one-month mark and is currently the longest shutdown in US history.

In an appeal made on Instagram, the 43rd president called on "leaders on both sides to put politics aside, come together, and end this shutdown." The caption was posted with an image of him and former First Lady Laura Bush giving pizza to their Secret Service detail.

Read More Show Less