On Wednesday, March 18th, the 2015 TAPS Honor Guard Gala was held at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. in honor of our fallen military heroes and their loved ones. T.A.P.S (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) mission is to provide compassionate care to those grieving the loss of a loved one in service to our nation. Each year, the annual black-tie affair raises continued support and awareness for our military families in mourning.
Hosted by Masters of Ceremony Kyra Phillips (CNN) and John Roberts (Fox News), the 2015 gala program recognized two award recipients for their outstanding dedication to families of the fallen. Opening remarks were given by this year’s keynote speaker, General Martin Dempsey, USA Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Guests of the gala included senior military officials, corporate and association executives, military survivor families, political leaders and Administration officials. Celebrity guest Eric Dane (CDR Tom Chandler from TNT’s The Last Ship) was also in attendance. Having lost his father, a Navy Veteran, Eric has been an unwavering Friend of T.A.P.S. since becoming familiar with the organization. Eric knows from personal experience how important it is for these grieving youth to have a support network. He is steadfast in his commitment to honoring the families of our nation’s fallen heroes.
The inspiring evening featured an elegant cocktail hour, followed by a seated dinner program with speeches from survivors, supporters, military leaders, and Friends of T.A.P.S. Once the dinner reception commenced, our keynote speaker was back with a surprise. Not only did General Martin Dempsey give the evenings opening remarks, he provided the entertainment! Attendees of the gala were treated to the musical stylings of Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, who took the stage to sing a number of Irish ballads with accompaniment provided by “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band’s contemporary country music ensemble, Free Country.
The night was truly an unforgettable experience. The calm resilience of the children who spoke was humbling. It was a privilege to honor their brave spirits. From the hopeful determination in their voices, it was clear that their courage is drawn from an internal well built from the sheer depth of their love and faith. They are our country’s most special children, sharing in the sacrifice to protect our freedom by giving a parent or sibling.
When brave American’s volunteer and give their life for us, it is our duty as their countrymen to care for the ones they leave behind. Because of this, I am so grateful to report that because of the generosity of the evening’s supporters, the 2015 Gala raised over $2 million for T.A.P.S. and will directly fund peer-based emotional support, grief and trauma resources, seminars for adults, good grief camps for children, case work assistance and a 24/7 resource helpline for all who have been affected by a death in the Armed Forces, regardless of the location of the death or the circumstances of the death.
To learn more about TAPS and their grief programs for survivors, visit http://www.taps.org
Follow on Twitter @TAPS4America for their latest news, events, and volunteer opportunities.
TAPS is a nonprofit organization offering compassion, comfort and care to the thousands of family members coping with the death of a loved one serving in the military, or in support of, the military mission. TAPS helps surviving families cope and heal in the aftermath of their loss through a variety of programs, including a national peer support network, the annual National Survivor Seminar, Good Grief Camps, grief and trauma resources, and a toll-free 24-hour helpline.