Tragedy and Support Programs for Military Families

With Memorial Day approaching, I will focus on programs for Military Families and their children who have dealt with the greatest sacrifice of all, the loss of a loved one to war, whether it be in combat or through suicide brought on by Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD).  Nearly all the families are trauma survivors, the true heroes.  They are the spouses, parents, children, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles.  They have suffered an enormous tragedy and grief and have to find a way to put their lives back together.  The following programs Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) and Military Families United (MFU)  are there to aid families round the clock.

Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS):  TAPS was founded in 1994 to offer immediate and long-term emotional support,  comfort, help and healing to anyone grieving the death of a loved one in military service from combat, suicide, terrorism homicide, negligence, accidents, and illness.   TAPS is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week with a national toll-free crisis, help and information line (1-800-959-8277).   TAPS immediately mails a Survivor Care Package to each family.  They offer peer-based emotional support, peer mentorship programs, parenting support, suicide support, resources, publications, a magazine, and videos.  View the TAPS website, to find out about all the wonderful programs.  TAPS has assisted over 35,000 surviving family members, casualty officers and caregivers.

On Memorial Day Weekend, May 25-28, TAPS holds its National Military survivor Seminar & Good Grief Camp for Young Survivors in Washington, D.C.  This will be the 18th annual conference and hundreds of families will be attending.  Parents and children attend their own programs.  Leading professionals in the grief and trauma field join together with survivors nationwide to share a weekend of hope, love, understanding, and courage.  The weekend is packed with workshops, fun, and entertainment.   It will be a time when loved ones will be honored and remembered.  Last year our son and his family attended.  Our grandson felt accepted and had a great time.  Attending the annual program and the good grief camps for kids throughout the year, means becoming a member of a larger family who can help you move forward with your grief and your lives.


Military Families United (MFU):  Is another support organization that “Honors the Fallen, Supports Those Who Fight, and Serves Their Families.”  They provide priceless support to families in crisis.  Founded in 2005, they are a national coalition of Gold Star and Blue Star families, veterans, and patriotic Americans who share a deep appreciation for our men and women in uniform and support them in their mission.   They ensure respect at military funerals.   They want to remind the nation of the importance of supporting our men and women in uniform, through services and charitable programs that offer families direct support, and educational opportunities for spouses.  View the MFU website.

MFU sponsors a very special Camp Desert Kids program for children who have parents deployed.  According to MFU, there are more than one million military kids, most of whom will be affected by deployment during their childhood.  Separation from a parent for any reason is tough.  But, for military children it is even more challenging because they don’t always understand the separation from their parent.  They have difficulty visualizing where their dad or mom has gone and what they are doing.  Camp Desert Kids gives children the opportunity to experience deployment just like their parent.   They have created a fun and educational program that uses games, maps, fun facts, cultural activities, crafts, regional food and drink, and even the opportunity to dress up like Mom or Dad in full camouflage gear.  In the camp, the child travels through deployment stations, just like their deployed parent does.  They receive a passport, go through a deployment line, learn interesting facts about the geography, language and customs of Afghanistan, where their parent is serving.  Cultural experts and military volunteers provide many hands-on experiences with local food, currency, native clothing, and military equipment.  They eat meals in a  mess hall.  And, as they out-process, they are given a t-shirt as a reminder of their experience  and materials to take home.  A great camp to help reduce a military child’s stress and anxiety.


Suggested Reading for Grieving Adults:

Surviving the Folded Flag:  Parents of War Share Stories of Coping, Courage and Faith, by Deborah H. Tainsh

Missing Max:  Finding Hope After My Marine Son’s Death, by Julie Schrock

A Grief Like No Other: Surviving the Violent Death of Someone You Love, by Kathleen O’Hara, MA

I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye:  Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One, by Brook Noel and Pamela D. Blair, PhD.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

20 thoughts on “Tragedy and Support Programs for Military Families

  1. What a great list of resources and lovely videos as well. I used to visit a retired navy officer (a US War Veteran) who lived in San Diego and who also happens to be a teacher in the nearby campus college. He married a Filipina who happens to be my husband’s aunt (several times removed). He and I would always have the most fascinating conversation about anything and everything. He just passed away a year ago and it saddens me that when I visit San Diego in a month’s time with my family, I won’t be seeing him anymore. I am sure he would appreciate greatly what you are doing, dear Pat.


    • Myra, what a moving story! You probably learned a lot. I am very glad that their are organizations supporting the families. Both programs are outstanding and families receive so much support. I have a very moving program to share next Monday for Vets –saved it for Memorial Daay.


  2. Thanks so much fod highlighting these camps and memorial activities,s Pat. It is wonderful to see the support for military families.


  3. Your posts this month will really help a child or parent with a relative in the army. I think that this post will really help them. It’s good for us to know about ways to support military families!


    • Erik, who knows– someday you may have the opportunity to help someone and make a referral to the programs! Never knew that I would require their support! Glad you liked the post.


  4. I love this idea. It’s a great way to connect Memorial Day with your blogging schedule and to highlight some important and overlooked people and the organizations that are out there to help them.


    • Michael, that was my intent. I wanted to focus May on military families– especially kids. I have a good post for Memorial Day. I have much more I could share. Thanks, your comments mean a lot to me!


  5. So important to have the resources highlighted year-round, but especially at Memorial Day. It saddens me to see such small community turnout for Memorial Day parades in many towns to honor our heroes and their families. Glad to know I can always come here and find the information I want/need!


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