Men’s Retreat: Gather for conversation, community building and camaraderie

Author: Gabriel Rao

We are just about underway with our 2019 TAPS Houston Men’s Retreat! And Houston, we do NOT have a problem… 

For men who are venturing through a grief landscape that may be as unfamiliar as the moon — listen up. You don’t have to do this alone. It may feel like you have found comfort in a place of solitude, but you may actually have veered into a place of isolation. TAPS wants to come alongside you. Through fellowship and camaraderie with fellow men, you can learn new coping strategies and experience forward movement in your grief.  Together, we acknowledge the differences in our lives since our losses, while building meaningful relationships.

Gabriel Rao, far right, is the manager of TAPS Men’s Program.Gabriel S. Rao, far right, is the manager of TAPS Men’s Program.

As men we fill many rolls: provider, leader, helper, supporter, husband, father, stepfather, brother, son, among others. We tell ourselves we must be strong and in constant control of our emotions. In short, we serve others, but leave no space for acknowledging our own needs, and recharging ourselves for the race. Some of this archetype has been passed down to us — but we may also have bought into the notion that this is what it means to be a man. 

What if instead you take the shield down, look at the archetype placed before you and stand present with other men in a similar situation? Real life. Real issues. Real understanding. 

We encourage men to participate in TAPS men’s programming as we run headstrong into breaking these archetypes and step into who we are. Let’s take that giant leap and become a man willing to step outside of our comfort zone. When you see that others share a similar grief path, you may find new ways to grow and heal. 

This week, a group of men will gather for the TAPS Houston Men’s Retreat. TAPS Retreats take place over several days in a unique location designed to bring together small groups of survivors who share similar losses to further build a sense of community. Each TAPS Retreat includes physical and emotional movement, time for conversation and reflection, and unique travel experiences.

For one of our activities in Houston, we will careen around a racetrack at 60 mph just a few inches off the ground. We will also build rockets at the Houston Space Center. These activities may sound fun—but they also are so much more. They are catalysts to conversation, to community building and to camaraderie. We are building lasting memories. We can laugh at a situation, experience joy and come together closer than before because we are sharing these experiences. 

The TAPS Men’s Program is extending an invitation for you to join us at a men’s event. We are TAPS Men, stepping up for one another — moving mountains together. 

Gabriel S. Rao is the manager, TAPS Men’s Program. He is the surviving brother of Army Sgt. Elijah J.M. Rao.


Upcoming Events

  • Video Chat: Men Only - 9 to 10:30 p.m. Eastern Wednesday April 24, 2019 (and every fourth Wednesday)

    Join us for this special forum dedicated solely to men where you can connect and talk with others who have experienced the loss of a loved one. This video chat occurs regularly on the fourth Wednesday of every month. Hosted by Don Lipstein.

  • Please check our events calendar for details on men’s retreats and expeditions:
  • Webinar: Men, Grief and Post-traumatic Growth - Available online

    Presented by the TAPS Institute for Hope and Healing, this webinar focuses on how veterans and military families can work towards posttraumatic growth after a loss. This webinar is appropriate for the bereaved and those who support them, including family members and friends.