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HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Attendees of the Transition Assistance Programs for Survivors Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp release balloons with notes attached to their loved ones outside the Minuteman Commons Nov. 3. TAPS is open to surviving family members of military personnel who have died while serving in the military. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rick Berry)
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Hanscom hosts families coping with grief

Posted 11/7/2012   Updated 11/7/2012 Email story   Print story

    


by Sarah Olaciregui
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs


11/7/2012 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass.  -- Approximately 125 surviving family members of military personnel who have died while serving in the military embarked upon the base Nov. 2 through 4 to take part in the Transition Assistance Programs for Survivors Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp for kids.

The free seminar began with a reception at the Minuteman Commons Nov. 2. The family members, who traveled here from a 250-mile radius, were invited to enjoy refreshments and get to know one another in a casual setting.

"We have spouses, siblings, children and parents coming here today," said Tina Saari, TAPS Survivor Seminar Programs director. "We have about 15 families attending who have lost loved ones just this year. Others go as far back as the 80s. Many attendees have attended one of these before, but for a lot of them, this will be their first time."

Although TAPS has been in existence since 1994, this is the first time the group has held a seminar in the New England region. In the past, the closest seminar was held in Philadelphia, Pa.

"We're really excited to be here at Hanscom," said Saari. "TAPS usually holds these on military bases to take advantage of the support, but to also give families a sense of belonging."

According to Saari, TAPS aims to let families know they're not alone.

"Many times after a loved one dies family members don't know where they belong," she said. "They still want a connection to the military. They have pride in the military. Holding these on a military base helps with that."

The mission of TAPS is to facilitate peer-based emotional support and assistance for all those whose loved ones died while serving in, or in support of, the armed forces. TAPS offers support to all survivors without regard to relationship of the deceased, branch of service or circumstances and geography of death.

The seminar allows those grieving the death of the loved one in the armed forces to come together and learn coping strategies, gain a network of support, find resources and share the journey of their grief with those who understand.

The Good Grief Camp is for children ages 4 to 19 who have been directly affected by the loss of a loved one in the military. They come together in a facilitated setting to gain coping skills, a network of support and an understanding of their family's legacy of service and sacrifice, according to the program fact sheet.

The seminar wrapped up on Sunday with a dinner.

"Although this is our first time in the Boston area, we hope it won't be our last," Saari said. "We want to hold this annually or, at least, every other year."

But the support of TAPS doesn't stop with the seminar. The organization also provides crisis intervention, a magazine, a peer mentor network and many other forms of support.

For further information about TAPS, visit www.taps.org.



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