Military Widows, Children Bond at Survivors' Workshop
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
ARLINGTON, Va., May 27, 2005 Although she'd experienced the loss of her military father, a smiling Tricia Hall today tightly hugged Cutie, a crisis-response dog, and exclaimed, "This is awesome."
Tricia Hall, 10, right, and Brady Costelow, 10, enjoy Cutie, a crisis response dog May 27 at the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors-sponsored seminar and workshop in Arlington, Va. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Tricia, 10, and about 100 other children of deceased servicemembers, as well as widowed spouses and parents, were attending the 11th annual National Military Survivor Seminar and Youth Gathering held May 26-30 here.
The seminar is sponsored by the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a nonprofit group that offers grief counseling and other services for widowed spouses, children and parents of military members who've died on duty, noted TAPS founder Bonnie Carroll.
Carroll lost her husband, Alaska National Guard Brig. Gen. Tom Carroll, in 1992 during a military aircraft crash. Two years later, she noted, TAPS was born.
The seminar, features workshops for surviving spouses, parents and children, Carroll explained, noting there's also a TAPS Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
She noted that the armed forces' ceremonial details in the National Capital Region provide volunteer mentors for the children at the seminar.
Seminar attendees who've experienced the devastating loss of a spouse, parent, son or daughter possess "an unspoken understanding and bond," Carroll explained, noting that TAPS honors service members who've died on duty, noting they'd stepped "forward to protect and defend this country."
Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers and his wife, Mary Jo, visited the TAPS seminar today to say hello to the children and other survivors.
Myers told gathered surviving spouses and parents that military programs "are trying to do everything they can do to help people through their times of need."
The general praised the TAPS program and saluted the attendees' courage "for coming together" and being part of the workshop.
"I wish I could just reach out with a hug for each of you and somehow diminish the grief that I know you carry with you," Mary Jo Myers told widows and parents.
The Joint Chiefs chairman presented Tricia Hall with his commander's coin. The general and his wife also visited with other children and posed for photos.
"You are family to me," Carroll told attendees, noting their deceased family members "are right here with us making sure that we're safe."