Running to support those left behind

Nov 23 2006 Published by under Uncategorized

This Thanksgiving, there's a lot that I am thankful for. There's also a fair amount that I'm not all that thankful for. I'm thankful that as of the email I got from her last night, my wife is still in good health. I'm not all that thankful that she is in good health on a base in Iraq. I'm also not very thankful that there are a lot of other families this year who have not been as lucky as we have in this regard.
For far too many people, supporting the troops begins and ends with the $1.93 spent on the magnetic ribbon. For many of those whose support extends a bit further, the support ends, well, when the soldier does. Unfortunately, that's when support is needed the most.
As of when I am writing this, 2867 members of the US military have died in Iraq, and another 350 in Afghanistan. By the time you read this, that number has probably gone up. Many of them left behind families who have been uprooted by their loss. At the same time that they are dealing with the sudden death of a member of the family, they also need to pack up their on-base life and move. They need to find a new home, new school for the kids, and so on. Families in that situation need all the support that they can get. TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) helps provide some of that support. TAPS is a privately-funded nonprofit agency that assists those left behind after the death of someone in uniform.
In a couple of weeks, a group of soldiers in Iraq will run the Honolulu Marathon on a base near Tikrit. (Yes, you read that right. The Honolulu Marathon is providing them with the timing equipment, the marathon in Iraq will take place at the same time as the one in Honolulu, and the runners will be registered for and considered to be running in the Honolulu Marathon. The only difference is that the course in Iraq won't have as nice a view and will have trenches along the way for runners to use in the event of a mortar or rocket attack.
Each of these soldiers is running in memory of someone they knew who died in either Iraq or Afghanistan, and they will be raising funds for TAPS. (My wife, for example, is running in memory of her old battalion commander, who died in a plane crash in Afghanistan, and an officer with her brother's unit, who was killed by an IED in Afghanistan.)
If you can, I hope you will support this cause. The families who have been torn apart by combat-zone deaths need far more support than anyone can really give, but every little bit helps. Links to individual donation pages for soldiers running can be found here, or you can donate to the entire team effort by clicking on the "general donation" button here.

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