With the help of a Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors initiative, 12 Gold Star children participated in a variety of life-enhancing activities April 11-15 in New York City.
They met Wall Street executives on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange for the opening bell, toured CBS News headquarters with producers and news anchor Jeff Glor and visited National Football League headquarters with commissioner Roger Goodell.
“I got to see a new perspective of the world,” said Chelsea Briggs, from Kapolei, Hawaii. Gold star children have lost a parent while he or she was serving on active duty. Briggs is the daughter of Air Force Staff Sgt. Raymond Briggs, who died in an accident Dec. 1, 2010.
Briggs said being a member of TAPS and participating in events like this have helped her.
“In the beginning, it was really hard, just graduating from high school and starting college,” she said. “My dad was always the one to talk to me about going to college or how to do certain things in life when I get older. For TAPS to fill that void, it’s very special for me because I still have that connection. I have that part of my life where I can get that advice I need about growing up without my dad.”
Bridge From Childhood to Adulthood
The young adults were outfitted in business attire by stylists at Macy’s. This was TAPS’ way, sponsored by the NFL, to help establish the bridge from childhood into adulthood for those who must face that challenge without the guidance of their missing parents, said Bonnie Carroll, TAPS president and founder.
“We have to go through life differently. We’re no longer normal children. We don’t have that dad to teach us how to tie a tie,” said Wesley Greene, from Washington, D.C., surviving son of Marine Corps Lt. Col. David Greene, a helicopter pilot who was killed in Iraq on July 28, 2004.
At every stop, the 12 Gold Star children met with professionals in the careers they hope to pursue, and they spoke about the importance of public and government service as a leadership skill. These 12 Gold Star children are known as “legacy mentors.” They were chosen from hundreds of applicants, and they are now mentoring others.
“Legacy mentors are extraordinary young adults who have sacrificed so much for our country, and it is inspirational that they have chosen to give back to grieving military children in a way only they can,” Carroll said. “They are living legacies of American service and sacrifice, and they honor their parent’s life by turning their grief into compassion for others. They are wonderful examples of resilience who will go on to do great things for our country.”