TAPS families honored at Pentagon event

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Defense Secretary Ash Carter hosted a family night for Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors families at the Pentagon on May 22, as part of the Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp for Young Survivors.

TAPS offers compassionate care to all those who are grieving the death of a loved one who passed while serving in the armed forces. With music, games and gear for children to try on, the family night event is always held over a Memorial Day weekend.

“What you and your families have given and sacrificed for our country is something no one in this building will ever forget, no one in this country will ever forget, and no one in the world should ever forget,” Carter said. “This, tonight, is to celebrate you, to welcome you home, to make you feel at home (and) to let you have fun, kids especially. (We’ve) got lots of cool stuff to do, a lot of fun for you to have, and a very nice way for you to know how much everyone around this country loves you and your family. You’ll always be in our hearts.”

During the event, more than 200 children and adults were able to meet other families in similar situations.

“It’s good to be around people who have the same stories because they know what you’re about,” said Bree Sullivan, a TAPS member. “It’s nice to be around our military family and other survivors because it allows us to grieve without being embarrassed. I love seeing my kids having fun and running around.”

There were booths from each service for TAPS families to walk around to, one being the Air Force booth, which had robots and other fun experiments from the Air Force Research Lab, and a paper airplane folding and flying contest.

“I liked the Air Force because they have jets,” said Chase Sullivan, Bree Sullivan’s son. “I want to be a pilot someday.”

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