TAPS seeks ‘Good Grief Camp’ mentors

Volunteers can register now for Memorial Day weekend


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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

Good Grief Camp mentors. (Courtesy photo from TAPS)

Last year, hundreds of veterans volunteered to mentor. This year we have 600 children and teens attending the camp over Memorial Day Weekend, and each of them needs their own Military Mentor. Let TAPS kids tell you the impact that the Good Grief Camp has in their life.

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!

Register at taps.org/militarymentor. For additional information contact mentors@taps.org or 202-588-TAPS (8277).

 


About the Author: Sharon Paz is the manager for TAPS Volunteer Resources and a proud Army spouse.

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. peter gregory    

    More than open to volunteering. Certified in grief counseling/PTSD/Stress Management issues. Reside in eastern Pa. 23 year Navy vet. (ret)

  2. James Mathew Smith    

    I wiuld like to be a Volunteer.
    James Smith
    (redacted)

  3. Joanna (Jodi) Hepler    

    I am very interested in becoming a Mentor. I am a U.S. Navy veteran / Corpsman. I just transferred to Charleston, S.C. I have experienced much loss in my life and now how to deal with it gracefully

  4. kenneth corley    

    would like to be apart like what you guys are doing

    1. kenneth corley    

      you can contact me to be a volunteer

  5. Johnny Smith    

    American Veterans Advocacy is putting veterans first. Memorial day weekend veteran’s health fair May25 2019. In Houma La for more information contact Johnny Smith (redacted)

  6. Mike Coughlin    

    Hello my name is Mike, I’m from Pocono mountains from Pennsylvania. I’m a United States Navy veteran. I served aboard the USS Coral Sea CVA 43 oh, and I was a damage control man. And repair division pipe shop. I’ve never notice their site on the web previously. but I’m very inspired by it as well as inspired by the men and women that are mentoring the children of the fallen brothers and sisters in arms. I’m a disabled vet at 100%. But maybe something like this would be helpful for me working with the children also. Please feel free to contact me at my email address. All my phone number of (redacted). Once again I think the work that you do looks to be very inspiring, heartfelt for the children. and if I think our fallen can see us from above with God, they’re very grateful for the work that you do with their children knowing that they’re not forgotten victims of war also. God bless you all, faithfully. Michael Coughlin

  7. Gregory Jaeger    

    I live in Arizona and would like to get more information on the number of days I would need to be there. My son works for Southwest airlines. I would like this information so I can check out flights. I would very much like to participate in this fine program. Thank you
    Greg Jaeger

  8. Robin Williams    

    I can only WISH for Help ! My Husband is a GentoGiant , never Complains about anything! He is 100% Disabled. He has Asbeso, Beart Disease, sugar diabetes, emergency brain suryfor an Aneurism , has a pace maker/ difiibaltor , had one knee replaced & the other HURTS SO BAD but , his heart is not healthy enough for them to do the surgery! I am also 100% Disabled , we have to Pay someone to do EVERYTHING for us & cant afford everything we need . House repairs , handicap bathroom ( been trying to get VA ) to install for years ! We have NO SUPPORT ! We have reached out to the American Legion more than Once but NOTHING!! We want to stay in our home , we raised our Grandchild from Birth till 2 months ago , she just turned 9. If we go in Assited Living , she would not be able to come spend nights or a week with us As she does now. Our Son has moved her out & no longer Needs us .. she is what we live for so…..we are in Pain daily with no Help at all ! My Husband deserves someone to step & HELP
    . He was on the USS FORESTALL when it caught fire off the. Coast of Nam , he has PTSD from the memories ! Thanks For Nothing American Legion , VA etc.. we will sit here and Die alone trying to do what we can & going Broke paying for what we CAN afford to get done !!! Mrs. Hobart Williams

    1. Natalie Bell    

      Mrs. Robin Williams, I am sorry to hear about rhe lack of support you and your husband receive. I found Disabled American Veterans (DAV) VERY helpful when applying for disability. Locate one in your area to assist you. There are usually multiple posts throughout each city.
      I wish you the vest of luck. I’m sure someone will read your story and give a helping hand.

    2. N Bell    

      Mrs. Robin Williams, I am sorry to hear about rhe lack of support you and your husband receive. I found Disabled American Veterans (DAV) VERY helpful when applying for disability. Locate one in your area to assist you. There are usually multiple posts throughout each city.
      I wish you the vest of luck. I’m sure someone will read your story and give a helping hand.

    3. Margaret T. Fabian    

      robin maybe you need to contact a different veterans service organization like DAV or PVA to help you navigate the VA disability benefits system — alot of paperwork I mean HUGE amount — but they will help you identify if there’s anything your husband is entitled to and will know if there’s any support outside the VA in your region. If there is nothing the VA can do for you, reach out the churches and organizations like habitat for humanity. I don’t know where you live, so I don’t know what else to suggest. And don’t lose heart over the assisted living piece — I work for assisted living buildings and they definitely permit grandchildren to stay over. Just make sure the building you choose allows kids. And hang in there, and keep praying – sometimes we have to wait the longest time for the best answers to our prayers. Pray without ceasing and know that God hears and answers every prayer. Thank you both for your service to our country. God bless you.

  9. Erin Montgomery    

    Hi!

    Do you have to be a vet to be a mentor? If so, how can non-bets support this camp? donated goods? Funds?

    Thanks!

Comments are closed.