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SecAF honors families of fallen at TAPS seminar

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) -- The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Air Force’s top civilian leader were among the officials May 23, who honored military families impacted by the loss of a loved one at the 20th Annual Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors national seminar and Good Grief Camp for Young Survivors.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey and Deborah Lee James addressed the children and families of the fallen at the Crystal Gateway Marriott here, as part of the three-day program that includes workshops, seminars, and a variety of activities.

Dempsey cited the birth of famed mathematician and meteorologist Edward Lorenz, who born on this day in 1917. Lorenz developed the butterfly effect, in which small changes can result in large effects.

“It’s about the ability of something small having an enormous impact -- that’s what TAPS does,” Dempsey explained. “One person at a time, one meeting at a time, one day at a time turns into a thousand of you and 1,200 of your children next door and it’s absolutely miraculous.”

James shared her story of Air Force Capt. David Lyon, who at age 28 was killed near Kabul, Afghanistan, on Dec. 27, 2013, when an improvised explosive device exploded near the vehicle in which he rode.

“I was deeply moved by the care Team Dover (Air Force Base, Delaware,) provided to Captain Lyon’s wife and his family,” James said. “That initial trip … really put a face on what military sacrifice means in our armed forces … not only for the military member but very importantly for our families in the military.”

Before breaking away to interact with military children who have suffered a loss, Dempsey, accompanied by military back-up singers, broke into a rousing rendition of Michael Bublé’s “Haven’t Met You Yet,” as the audience cheered.

Founded in 1994, TAPS is a nonprofit organization that provides immediate and long-term emotional help, hope, and healing to all who are grieving the death of a loved one in military service to America, according to the TAPS website. TAPS meets its mission by providing peer-based emotional support, grief and trauma resources, casework assistance and connections to community-based care.

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