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Families of fallen military members find comfort, support

By Lindsay Watts, Weekend GMC Anchor/Target 13 Investigator , l.watts@krdo.com
Published On: Apr 07 2013 12:00:08 AM CDT

Military families gathered at Ft. Carson for TAPS, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. The message to grieving families is: you don't have to do this alone.

FT. CARSON, Colo. -

Families of fallen military members are helping each other through their grief, meeting at Ft. Carson this weekend through TAPS, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.

TAPS message for grieving families is: you don't have to do this alone. The organization holds events throughout the country to help families cope with the death of a loved one in the military.

Rayanne Hunter's husband, 28-year-old Staff Sargent Wesley Hunter, was the only survivor of an IED ambush in Iraq.

"He came home and lived for two and a half years before he died," Hunter said. "He had PTSD and traumatic brain injury, survivors guilt, everything."

What she and her two children have gone through isn't something everyone understands. But the dozens of people who joined them at Ft. Carson can all relate.

"I think the tools and the bond that you build with people really helps you through the process," Hunter said.

It was Darlene Ashley-Jenkins first time at a TAPS event since her husband, Sargent Mark Jenkins, died following a bone marrow transplant for leukemia.

"I came because I had a sense of needing to belong and talk to people who can understand what I'm going through," Ashley-Jenkins said. "I have made some connections that I hope become life-long friends. I'm looking forward to getting to know people better and just, it is very valuable to me right now."

The group released balloons, some with personal messages, to their heroes.

"The kids and I always watch as long as you possibly can to try to see our balloon before it gets mixed up with the jumble of everyone's else's," said Hunter. "It's just a neat experience to see it fly off."

To learn more about TAPS click here.

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