Vice President Meets With Fallen Warriors’ Children
By Marine Corps Cpl. Michael Iams
Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CAMP PENDLETON, Calif., Jun. 19, 2013 Vice President Joe Biden visited with more than 40 children participating in the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors at Hanger 6 here June 14 as part of a four-day Good Grief Camp at Palomar Mountain.
Vice President Joe Biden talks with children participating in the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors and answers their questions at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton in California during a four-day Good Grief Camp, June 14, 2013. Biden spoke about his life experiences, his job as the vice president and the military community. TAPS is a program to help children cope with the loss of a military parent. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michael Iams
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
TAPS brings together children who have lost a military parent. Program participants learn healthy coping skills.
“This camp allows the children to get together and see that they are not alone in their grief,” said Bonnie Carroll, president and founder of TAPS. “Here [the children] are able to have fun and be around other children who have experienced the same feelings of loss.”
During their camp, the children and their Marine mentors visited the air station where they viewed aircraft like the CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter, the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Packbot and reconnaissance gear.
“We volunteer to help these children cope with the pain of their loss,” said Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Omar Hawkins, a warehousemen with Headquarters and Support Battalion and a TAPS mentor. “Most of us have also lost a loved one and understand how they feel as we help them through their time of need.”
The children and mentors received a surprise visit from Vice President Joe Biden and his family as they landed at Camp Pendleton in Air Force 2.
“I just want to say how honored we are to be here,” said Biden’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden, who accompanied her husband. She noted that her son, Beau, deployed to Iraq a few years ago as a member of the Army National Guard. She and First Lady Michelle Obama champion the “Joining Forces” initiative, which seeks support for military families and works to connect service members, veterans and military spouses with the resources they need to find jobs at home.
The Bidens emphasized the importance of finding someone to help through the difficult times.
“It’s important to be around people who understand what you’re going through,” the vice president told the children. “I hope that is what you find out here at this camp. I hope you find that there are a lot of kids who understand and will be there for you.”
Biden sat with the children and answered their questions while they all ate ice cream.
“I asked the vice president how many states he has been to,” said Lily Blish, an 8-year-old who lost her father to cancer seven years ago. “I would like to travel a lot like he does.”
After talking with the vice president, the children were able take a photo with him and get a tour of Air Force 2.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the children to be able to meet with the vice president and ask him any question they want,” said Brad Gallup, a team grief facilitator with TAPS. “This also let [the children] know they are still connected to the military community and how important they are.”