The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff honored the families of fallen service members yesterday, saying through unimaginable loss, they honor their loved ones and give hope to others.
The bravery of these families strengthens those who currently wear the uniform, Air Force Gen. Paul Selva said at the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors’ 24th annual National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp banquet.
“There are tens of thousands of family members who carry the weight of the service of their spouses, their children and their parents,” Selva said. “And for that, we all owe you a debt of gratitude, each of us to you, because you are such an example of strength.”
Carrying the Legacy Forward
Since 1994, TAPS, which offers a variety of programs for survivors, has hosted its national seminar and grief camp in Washington over Memorial Day.
Selva commended TAPS president and founder Bonnie Carroll and the work of the organization supporting those who have lost a military loved one.
He highlighted the commitment of survivors who serve as mentors at TAPS, saying they have opened their hearts to help others and are making a big difference in the world.
“To carry a legacy forward together, to remember the life of the service member who you would honor I think is the foundation that allows us, all of us who wear this uniform, to continue to serve,” Selva said.
Just Two Words: ‘Thank You’
Every service member, the general said, knows that one day he or she might be in harm’s way. “It gives us great comfort to know that if something were to happen to us, this community would wrap its arms around our families,” he said.
TAPS has helped 70,000 survivors cope with the loss of military loved ones. The survivors and TAPS have made incredible contributions to the nation, he said.
“I am personally grateful for your service. I am personally grateful for what you have done and what you do brings strength to all of us.” he said. “And for that, there are only two words I know how to say -- thank you.”
Yesterday’s banquet in Arlington, Virginia, just outside of Washington, brought together 850 people, to include survivors, mentors and sponsors. TAPS families came from across the country and the world to participate in the weekend events, according to TAPS.
(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)