Children Of Fallen Troops Come To DC To Heal And Play

news

On May 28, 500 children of fallen service members gathered in West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C., for Playfield in the Park, an event put on by Yellow Ribbons United and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or TAPS.


The day was part of TAPS’ annual National Good Grief Camp, which pairs children of fallen service members with military and veteran mentors over the course of Memorial Day weekend.

For 10-year-olds Landon and Tyler, the camp is an opportunity to create new memories and friendships with those who understand their grief and loss.

“I realized that fallen heroes, like I have, everyone here was just like me,” Landon told Task & Purpose. “Everybody here had a parent or a loved one from all the branches of the military who passed away in the line of duty.”

Yellow Ribbons United brings professional athletes and sports companies together to support American military families and was founded by Emma and Derrick Dockery, a former Washington Redskins football player. Founded in 1994, TAPS is a national organization that provides care and support to the families of fallen service members.

Landon and Tyler take turns kicking a soccer ball during Playfield in the Park, an event put on by Yellow Ribbons United and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors on May 28 in Washington, D.C.Task & Purpose photo by James Clark

For Tyler, he says the program has made it easier for him to talk about his father.

“My mom told me it was about grieving and I didn’t understand what grief was and she told me it was about being upset,” said Tyler. “I didn’t like talking about my dad, but TAPS showed me how to talk about it. I figured out that all the kids at TAPS went through the same thing.”

Many of the TAPS mentors currently serve on active duty, in the reserves, or are veterans themselves, and some, like Julie Carabell, knew the fallen parent of their mentee.

Carabell serves in the Air Force reserves and was friends with the father of her mentee who served in the Army.

Julie Carabell an Air Force reservist and a volunteer with Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, carries her mentee, Arayana on her back.Task & Purpose photo by James Clark

“I first joined TAPS because it was an opportunity to give back to the families, and later that year Aryana’s dad passed away and I had been stationed with him and her mom and two sisters,” said Carabell, who has began mentoring Aryana last year.

“I think it’s been a great opportunity, whereas we can never repay the debt, it’s been a really rewarding experience to try to keep that memory alive for them,” said Carabell.

Related: Memorial Day Doesn’t Need To Be Treated As A National Military Funeral »

During the event, the children had a chance to meet with veterans and service members who knew their parents, play field games and sports, get their faces painted, and celebrate the memory of loved ones who fell while serving their country.

Check out the photos from Yellow Ribbons United and TAPS’ Playfield in the Park below.

Good Grief Camp volunteers, children, and their military mentors are greeted with cheers and applause as they arrive at Playfield in the Park for a day of fun.

Photo courtesy of TAPS | Jennifer Jones

Army Lt. Gen. Bill Mayville, director of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, talks with AJ and Jake about their dad, Air Force Lt. Col. Mark Stratton, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2009.

“I walk by their dad’s picture every day going back and forth through the office and I always wonder about his kids and how they’re doing and I got to meet his two sons today,” said Mayville. “It was really special to come to an event like this.”

Photo courtesy of TAPS | Jennifer Jones

Airmen with the Air Force Honor Guard perform silent drill maneuvers for the attendees.

Task & Purpose photo by James Clark

Volunteers, mentors, and their mentees take to the stage to dance.

Task & Purpose photo by James Clark

Children talk with actors dressed as Superman and Wonder Woman.

Task & Purpose photo by James Clark

An airman with the Air Force Honor Guard speaks to Good Grief Camp attendees.

Task & Purpose photo by James Clark

Task & Purpose photo by James Clark
(U.S. Army photo)

Army Futures Command will reach fully operational status just before the newest gem of the Army's modernization plan sees its first birthday on August 24th, officials announced on Tuesday.

AFC Commander Gen. John "Mike" Murray told reporters at a technologies showcase on Tuesday that the command will be fully operational on July 31st before showing off everything AFC personnel have been working on over the last year, from night vision goggles and robotic vehicles to new air- and missile-defense capabilities.

Read More Show Less
(Associated Press/Carolyn Kaster)

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) has been told to stop using the Marine Corps' emblem and the 1st Marine Division's motto in his campaign literature, Corps officials confirmed.

The Marine Corps Trademark Licensing Office has sent Hunter, a Marine veteran, a cease and desist letter telling him to quit using the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor emblem along with the phrase, "No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy," on a fundraising mailer that accuses his political opponent of having links to terrorism, NBC News first reported on Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
(Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department)

Arapahoe County sheriff's deputies have arrested a U.S. Army recruiter for investigation of soliciting girls as young as 10 years old for sex after he allegedly sent selfies calling himself "Colorado batman," the sheriff's department reported.

Read More Show Less
(Associated Press/The Fayetteville Observer/Andrew Craft)

An Army appeals court has rejected Bowe Bergdahl's claim that President Trump's public description of him as "a no-good traitor who should have been executed" and other comments on the disgraced soldier's case constituted unlawful command influence (UCI).

Read More Show Less
(Department of Defense photos)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared onMilitary.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The Marine Corps must update its parental-leave policies to give new moms and dads time with their newborns, the service's new top general wrote this week, including considering a full year's worth of leave for women who've had a child.

Marines should not be expected to choose between being the best parent possible and their career duties, Commandant Gen. David Berger wrote in his planning guidance released to the force Tuesday.

"These outcomes should never be in competition to the extent that success with one will come at the expense of the other," Berger wrote. "Our parental/maternity leave policies are inadequate and have failed to keep pace with societal norms and modern talent management practices."

Read More Show Less