Tamara has channeled her family's agony - grief that came close to taking her down - into a support program for other veterans who've experienced pregnancy loss or the death of an infant.
One in four pregnancies ends in a loss, according to Tamara, and studies show that for veterans and military families, the risks are even higher. Taps for Babies, now in its second year, is determined to educate others about the very real need for support after a pregnancy loss or infant death, and to make sure veterans are connected to the very best support the community and VA system has to offer. The event, the first of its kind for veterans in the nation, brings together grieving families, non-profit organizations, and VA staff.
Just as moving as the silence that filled the space around the bugle notes were the words we heard from an unexpected speaker. Among the children present on this family-focused day were Tamara's infant son and her older daughter Kiri, who had served as unofficial ambassador to those of us setting up exhibit tables, offering to help organize our displays.
When all the grown-up speakers had finished their remarks and the VA chaplain prepared to close the program, four year-old Kiri approached for the microphone. She told us about her sister Marina, about her death and the ways in which her family keeps her memory a part of their lives. She offered the simple lessons from their experience as a gift of support to others.
Tamara tells me, "Kiri has already asked me if she is speaking this time. She asks me almost daily how she can help the mommies who've lost their babies. She always wants me to pass on the most profound things."
Tamara welcomes inquiries about the October 28 event in Portland, Oregon and how to get a Taps for Babies program started in your community. Currently working with the Orlando Veteran's Administration on starting a program, Tamara quotes the saying, "There is no expiration on my oath of enlistment." She says, "This program is ultimately about looking out for each other and leaving no one behind." Email: email@example.com