Saluting Service and Sacrifice: Gillette, NFL Team Up for TAPS
Author: Kristi Stolzenberg
From the outside looking in, the death of a military service member is a moment — one unimaginably difficult day on a calendar page for a grieving family. This loss is eventually paved over by a new normal, and life goes on for the fallen hero’s family. But the view is much different at the center of the loss — it’s so much more than a single day; it weaves through the lives of those left behind. The absence of one life touches every good day and every tough day.
As grieving children make their way forward after losing a parent, each milestone is a reminder that they lost not only a great love from their past, but a great love in their present and future. Graduations, weddings, birthdays — no matter how many loved ones are present, it’s impossible to ignore the one person who isn’t there. But, if we challenge ourselves to think back to our own adolescence, we might recall those quieter milestones — growth that occurs without a big party or official ceremony. Parents are traditionally at the center of those moments. They taught us how to drive, cook, ride a bike, fold laundry, put on makeup, tie a necktie, and shave.
TAPS recognizes how loud the absence of a parent can be in those moments, and we are committed to supporting surviving children during the highs and lows of grief that occur among the natural highs and lows of growing up. Our Military Mentor and Legacy Mentor programs ensure that surviving children always have an added source of encouragement and guidance as they grow.
NFL Salute to Service Initiative with GilletteLabs
For several years, TAPS has received incredible support from the NFL as a Salute to Service partner. This year, we are honored to receive a $250,000 donation from GilletteLabs through the NFL Salute to Service initiative. The funds will directly support our TAPS Military Mentor program, ensuring the children and teens of America’s fallen continue to receive the one-to-one support that only TAPS can provide.
Like TAPS, Gillette has a long-running history of honoring the selfless service of military personnel and supporting their families. During World War I, shaving was not only a part of a serviceman’s daily routine, but it was a matter of hygiene and safety during trench warfare where disease and lice were passed around. Further, with the introduction of chemical warfare, a clean shave was necessary for gas masks to fit with a tight seal. In both WWI and WWII, Gillette was the sole government-contracted provider of shaving tools in addition to supporting with “hot kits” and critical airplane parts.
Gillette’s latest show of support for the military, veteran, and survivor communities — the GilletteLabs Camo Razor, is a nod — or, appropriately enough, a salute — to service. It also helps TAPS demonstrate one way that we show up for survivors — specifically teen boys — in one of those quieter milestones, learning to shave.
Teaching teen boys to shave is just one of the many ways Military Mentors provide practical tools to surviving children and teens at Good Grief Camps. Traditionally a special moment shared between father and son, learning to shave is probably not a moment most outside of grief would point to as an especially hard day to face without having dad around, but that is why the TAPS Military Mentor program is so critical. We know that those more intimate, one-on-one rites of passage are some of the hardest parts of growing up as a survivor. They are the moments when it’s most obvious that life is different and great loss swells to fill even the smallest, unseen milestones.
Take a Selfie with Brian and Dom at your Local Walmart
TAPS is incredibly grateful for the support of organizations like the NFL and Gillette, and programs like Salute to Service that share our commitment to military and veteran survivors. In addition to Gillette’s generous donation to our Military Mentor program, two members of our TAPS family, Military Mentor Brian Smith and his Mentee Dom D’Ambra IV, are featured on the in-store displays for the GilletteLabs Camo Razor at Walmart stores across the country. Next time you stop by your local Walmart, snap a selfie with Brian, Dom, and the Camo Razor display. Post it and tag us — @tapsorg on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram — and show your appreciation for their support by tagging Gillette and Walmart with #camorazor.
If you’re shopping online at Walmart.com for the GilletteLabs Camo Razor, please take the extra step to shop walmart.com/sparkgood and select the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors as your favorite charity. Every time you shop, you can donate your change to TAPS by rounding up your total to the nearest dollar at checkout. Your donations will be matched two to one until November 30.
For 30 years, TAPS has been present for moments and milestones of all sizes, for survivors of all ages and types of loss. We are grateful for everything you do to support your fellow survivors, and we are thankful to have the support of Gillette and NFL Salute to Service — together, we truly can heal grieving hearts and shape bright futures for families of the fallen.
Kristi Stolzenberg is the TAPS Magazine Editor.
Photos courtesy of GilletteLabs and TAPS Archives.