Honoring the Families of the Fallen, A TAPS Gathering of Survivors

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Written by Robert Yslas, Jr., AUXPA1

(WASHINGTON) – Secretary of Defense James Mattis presents a gift to members of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) visiting the Pentagon.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jackie Hart/Released)

The men and women of our armed services sacrifice more than what is asked of them. They leave their families, friends, and loved ones in order to carry out the mission of our country and unfortunately, some pay the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. As loved ones gather around a flag draped casket, families are offered these solemn and heartfelt words, “On behalf of a grateful nation…” The angst of knowing that a service member will be not around for all of their tomorrows is, perhaps, a pain that will never go away. It is in that pain, in that sorrow of being left behind, that an organization rises above the rest to provide strength and support along this difficult journey. The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) provides compassionate care for those grieving for a loved one who has died while in service to our country or as a result of their service. Since 1994, TAPS has provided a peer network of 24/7 service by offering care and hope to surviving families and loved ones at no cost.

This year, on May 26, 2017, more than 300 TAPS family members, all of whom have lost a loved in as a result of their service to our country, gathered at the Pentagon as part of the 23rd Annual National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp. Participants were greeting by Defense Secretary James Mattis as they arrived at the River Entrance overlooking Washington D.C.’s landmarks. This year marked the third annual TAPS member tour and camp to the Pentagon during the Memorial Day weekend. Mattis told the gathered group of men, women, and children: “We get a lot of important people in this building, but no one is more important to us in our hearts than all of you.”

Secretary Mattis offered encouraging words, with the knowledge that their family’s sacrifice is beyond words, yet survivors and supporters stand together to offer their strength, hope, and love. Participants were treated to two hours of multi-service exhibits, to include the Coast Guard, along with picnics, games, and time spent with members of the National Basketball Association.


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