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T*A*P*S Memorial Day Event

Over the 2017 Memorial Day weekend AFSC/Magellan team mates volunteered at the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (T*A*P*S) event. This program supports families and children who have lost a loved one that have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Team members Racquel P. and Shaun G. are part of the OSBR /Family Assistance Support (FAST). Their table was located in the T*A*P*S resource village. Racquel and Shaun were there to provide support and answer questions regarding military government entitlements. The main focus was to ensure the surviving spouses of all service members who died on active duty are signed up to receive their interactive Online Survivor Benefits Report (OSBR) through DS Logon. The personalized interactive reports display not only all current and estimated future benefits but also allow survivors to input “What if?” type changes to family members’ education status and plans, disability status, and marital status to see what impact those changes have on the family’s benefit amounts.

T*A*P*S Team Leader, Rob R. attended his 17th year participating with T*A*P*S. Rob helps to facilitate grief work for a group of 23 children, ages ten to twelve years old and their mentors. All of the children that are in his group have experienced the loss of a loved one that was serving in the US Armed Forces.

It is such an honor and rewarding experience for our team mates to provide support for the families of our Fallen heroes. Thank you for representing AFSC/Magellan Federal and for your continous work with our military, veterans, and military families.

Wish to learn more about how you can volunteer or about T*A*P*S, Click Here.

Memorial Day 2017

AFSC/Magellan Federal Colleagues,

I hope that this holiday weekend gives you a chance to relax a bit and take a well-earned break from the stress and pace of our vital work. I also urge you to remember and reflect on the meaning of this most sacred day.

Magellan Federal has a long legacy of service to military survivors which dates back to 1879. We are honored to still be a leader in supporting military survivors, providing surviving military families with information and compassionate case management that helps them navigate a very complex set of issues and benefits. We are deeply in touch with the incredible pain and suffering of losing these brave men and women.

Often there is confusion about this holiday relative to Veterans Day- which was first observed in 1926- where we recognize and appreciate all veterans who have served our country- particularly those who are still with us. Memorial Day began in 1868 and is focused on honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice preserving our country and the freedoms for which it stands. Local springtime tributes to those who died in the Civil War had already been held in various places and 25 cities claim to be “the first” to celebrate Memorial Day. One of the earliest tributes occurred in Columbus, MS, April 25, 1866, when a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, neglected because they were the enemy. Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, the women placed some of their flowers on those graves as well.

The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies. After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.

More than 1 million American service members have died in wars their nation has been involved in since the first colonial soldiers took up arms in 1775. All Americans are direct beneficiaries of their sacrifice. Some specific actions you might take on this special day might include:

  • Visiting memorials
  • Fly the US flag at half-staff until noon
  • Volunteer/Donate to nonprofits serving survivors (The largest is TAPS.org)
  • Read All About It: there is a wide variety of books and online content about those lost in service
  • Talk to your children. If you need some help explaining it to kids, these three books (appropriate for children ages four to eight) talk about the holiday in clear language that kids will understand:

One particularly meaningful and impactful option I might suggest is visiting one of the 135 veterans cemeteries across the nation that protect the remains of many of our fallen. (https://www.cem.va.gov/cems/listcem.asp) There are also 24 overseas American military cemeteries with 125,000 buried and another 94,000 commemorated on tablets of the missing. When you consider every American war or engagement, domestic and foreign, where America's sons and daughters spilled blood protecting our freedoms, the meaning of Memorial Day grows stronger and more significant with every contemplation.

Several years ago one of our Magellan Federal leaders - a retired Army Colonel, Army Special Forces, was reflecting on a visit he once made to France. He was returning from a mission in Bosnia and on Memorial Day visited a battlefield where his own grandfather had fought in WWI. The cemetery holds 14,246 American graves, the largest number of American military dead in Europe. The Meuse-Argonne offensive, which lasted for just 16 days, from 26 September 1918 to 11 November 1918, caused 117,000 American casualties for a rate of more than 7,000 casualties per day. Walking through the tiny town, in every window box there was an American flag flying alongside a French flag. He said that EVERY French man, woman and child recognized his uniform as an American Soldier’s and came up to thank him personally for his country’s sacrifice to preserve their freedom, 77 YEARS EARLIER!!

Reflecting on this he wrote to me:
"Some might say that America only fights when it fits a political agenda. I’m not a politician, but I am an American Soldier. I believe in protecting and preserving our constitution and our countrymen to the death, and I value what freedom represents not just to Americans, but to all of the people of the world whose freedoms are oppressed. When I think of those headstones in foreign countries marking the final resting place of Americans, I believe Colin Powell said it best. On 26 January 2003, while in England attending a large conference, he was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an example of American empire-building. Powell answered, “Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return."

Best wishes for an enjoyable and safe holiday weekend. I hope you find at least one moment to reflect on the sacrifices of our nation’s brave soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coast guardsman. We must never forget what these heroes have done and what their loved ones have lost.

Geoffrey J. Deutsch
President & CEO

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