WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Even 476 miles, the distance from Wisconsin to Ohio, isn’t enough to stop one family from taking part in the event that continues to change their lives.
Abby Schroeder, an Air Force widow, and her sons are eagerly preparing for their trip to Ohio for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) Ohio Regional Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp that will take place at the University of Dayton July 27 - 29.
Two years ago, after her husband passed, Schroeder searched for resources to help her family go through the grieving process. She reached out to TAPS after finding out about the organization through Lackland Air Force Base’s Casualty Assistance Office and Airman & Family Readiness Center.
Soon after, a package full of informative brochures, children’s book and DVDs about grieving arrived in the mail. She found that the resources helped her sons, so she went online to learn more about what TAPS offered and found out about the Good Grief Camps for children.
That’s when the Schroeder family’s new journey started.
They packed their bags and headed northeast to Baltimore, Maryland to attend a camp there.
Not only did the Schroeders meet other widows and children going through similar experiences, she has become life-long friends with a few of them.
“We’ve developed strong bonds and close friendships that helped me through these past two years,” she explained. “The program has been a great resource for emotional support and helps me to not feel isolated with all that I’m going through.”
While at the Baltimore event, Schroeder realized how much support having this new group of friends would provide for her family. She was determined to ensure that Baltimore wouldn’t be a one-time experience.
“My sons like to be rough and tumble and it’s great for them to have the type of friendship and exposure they get from the military mentors,” Schroeder explained. “I appreciate the interaction between my boys and the men. They share the same values and goals as my husband -- my sons look up to them.”
The Schroeders continued to attend more TAPS seminars all over the nation, making new friends, utilizing more resources and making positive progress in the grief process. It didn’t matter where the seminars were held, she would make every effort to attend.
For the last couple of years, the family has been to camps from as far as Alaska and soon Ohio. Schroeder has also attended a widow’s retreat and a cruise hosted by TAPS.
“If you need assistance with grieving for a military family member or know someone who is,” she continued. “TAPS has so many resources available to you. They have welcomed my family with open arms and has helped us greatly.”
The three day seminar is designed to help families who are grieving the loss of a member in the armed forces.
At the Good Grief Camp, children from across the region come together to connect with others who have experienced similar losses. They honor their loved ones, learn coping skills and find support systems.
A military member is paired with each child to help provide a safe environment and to allow them to work through their grief along with activities, games and team building.
Some examples of the topics for the adult seminars include individuals new to grief, learning how to relax for focus and well-being, seeing a new perspective on the pain of grief, learning self-care tools, nutrition for healing and comfort and how to manage difficult emotions.
For more information on the TAPS program, call 800-959-TAPS (8277), email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their website: TAPS.org or facebook.com/TAPSorg.