This Memorial Day, as we honor and pay tribute to the service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice, we also hold close the families left behind to carry on their legacy of service.
At the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), we support the loved ones for whom Memorial Day can be a painful reminder of their loss. For the past 25 years, we have brought together families from around the country to our National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp, held in Arlington, Virginia, over Memorial Day weekend. This year, we carry on that tradition of support with a weekend full of love, connection and comfort for all they have gone through. But we can’t do it without the help of hundreds of volunteers.
Each of the 600 children in our Good Grief Camp will be paired with a veteran of the Armed Forces who serves as a Military Mentor.
Mentors are trained by TAPS staff and volunteer in groups with kids ages 4-18. Experienced group leaders design engaging lessons and activities throughout the weekend. The one-on-one support that a Military Mentor gives lets TAPS kids examine their grief, honor their loved one and know that they are not alone.
Good Grief Camp mentors. (Courtesy photo from TAPS)
Our Military Mentors, some of whom have been volunteers at Good Grief Camp for several years, reflect on what spending their Memorial Day Weekend with TAPS has been like:
“I became a TAPS mentor to honor those we have lost and their families. To be able to come together and walk alongside the children and families as we ‘remember the love, celebrate the life and share in the journey’ is immeasurable and an honor,” said Celeste Arriaga, U.S. Army Veteran
“As soon as I learned of the mission of TAPS, I KNEW that I should be at National (Seminar) for Memorial Day. I immediately volunteered in 2013,” said Anthony DiCola, US Navy.
“The kids in TAPS are uniquely special, they truly inspire all of us adults with their strength and optimism,” said Capt. Millie Gargurevich, US Air Force.
“It is not easy to mentor, but nothing worthwhile ever is. You will fall in love with the families and form relationships that will last forever. I love how you go to a TAPS event as strangers and when it ends, you leave as family—it truly is magical!” Maj. Peter Mask, Air Force Reserve
Honor Memorial Day by volunteering with TAPS. Help us keep the battlefield promise of caring for the families of America’s fallen military heroes. Make a difference and mentor!
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