Thanks to a grant from the NFL, 20 families whose service members died on active duty will be going to the Pro Bowl this weekend in Orlando, Florida.
Over the last few years, the NFL has provided these opportunities for some families of fallen service members, working with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or TAPS. The family members will have time to connect with one another, to celebrate their loved ones who have died, and participate in activities with the NFL in Walt Disney World and in Orlando, according to an announcement from TAPS. The Pro Bowl will be played Sunday.
TAPS’s sports program, teams4taps, has engaged with more than 150 sports teams around the country since its inception in 2013, allowing thousands of surviving families to connect with the athletes and teams they cheered for with their service member.
Families have participated in Salute to Service activities, where they attended NFL football games and other activities with teams. Honoring the fallen and recognizing their family members in this way began in 2015 with the Carolina Panthers.
“For the families who have lost loved ones in the military, the NFL has offered extraordinary experiences on the field where families have honored their fallen heroes and cheered on their favorite teams,” said Bonnie Carroll, president and founder of TAPS, previously describing the programs.
TAPS is a national organization providing compassionate care for the families of fallen service members. It has offered support in a variety of ways to more than 70,000 surviving family members since 1994.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.