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Family Matters Blog: TAPS Seeks Military Mentors for ‘Good Grief Camp’

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2012 – The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors is seeking active duty service members and recent veterans to serve as volunteer mentors to children of the military fallen over Memorial Day weekend in Washington, D.C.

TAPS, a nonprofit organization that provides support and care to families of the military fallen, will host nearly 500 children and teens from across the nation at its 18th Annual TAPS Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp.

Volunteer mentors work with these children one-on-one, serving as a camp guide and offering a sympathetic ear or shoulder to cry on. Mentors have ranged from privates to generals, and represent all military services.

I remember seeing a mentor’s impact firsthand after stopping by a “Good Grief Camp” a few years ago in Crystal City, Va. I had arrived just in time for a balloon-release ceremony. Hundreds of children stood by a fountain gripping strings holding a rainbow assortment of balloons. Tied to each was a message to a loved one who had died while serving the nation.

With a “Let ‘em go!” the children released their balloons and watched intently as they became distant specks in the sky. The mentors stayed close by, some with an arm wrapped around a child’s shoulders.

Mentors have a powerful role at these camps, TAPS officials said. “We know it is no small favor as you will be giving up your personal time over the holiday, but bringing a smile to the faces of our nation's youngest heroes and reminding them they will always remain a part of the military family is worth every minute you selflessly donate,” they said.

Mentors must be available all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the holiday weekend. Monday is optional but encouraged.

For more information about the TAPS Good Grief Camp or to register as a mentor, visit the TAPS website. Registration will be open through May 7.

For more information or to request a time-off letter, email mentors@taps.org or call 1-800-959-TAPS (8277).


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