The TAPS Daily - May 5, 2020
Welcome to The TAPS Daily - your source for some of the latest news, resources, and thought pieces from across the military and veteran community during the COVID-19 response.
- Make the Most of Time at Home: Share Your Loved One's Story
Preserve your veteran's legacy in the Library of Congress so that others will have an opportunity to learn of their service, and be inspired by their actions.
- Commemoration of VE Day 75th anniversary goes virtual
Events commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II may have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped one organization from putting together a series of programs specifically designed to adhere to the unique age of social distancing.
- INSPIRED by kindness: General delivers ice cream in his homemade truck to combat quarantine blues
(We Are The Mighty)
As the United States approaches two months in quarantine, people from all walks of life are starting to feel the effects of social distancing and continued isolation. Retired Air Force Lt. General Stanley E. Clarke III, his wife Rebecca and their daughter Kelly Reynolds, decided to change that narrative.
- 51-year-old crushes ACFT, readies for BCT graduation and EOD school
Sgt. Michael Murray arrived for basic combat training this February as part of his reenlistment with the Florida National Guard’s 221st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company in Camp Blanding. In order to rejoin, he had to resign his previous commission as a captain and re-enter as a sergeant, the release said.
- 3 Marines Tackle, Subdue Threatening Passenger on Long-Haul Flight
Three Marines who sprang into action to restrain a hostile and disruptive fellow passenger are now being recognized by their unit commanding officer for their bravery and quick thinking.
TAPS In the News
- Make Mom Feel Like a Celebrity with These Mother’s Day Gift Ideas
(NBC Los Angeles)
Staying at home this Mother's Day? Here's what celebrity gift guru Lash Fary says the stars are getting gifted and how you can get them too. TAPS For Hope bracelet featured.
- Advocacy group wants survivor benefits for all military families who lose a service member to coronavirus
(Stars and Stripes)
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), a nonprofit and advocacy group for families of fallen service members, is looking to get the remainder of National Guard troops on federal status and to backdate it to help families of fallen receive federal benefits, such as monthly survivor compensation, education benefits or a death gratuity.
- Here's what grieving military families can teach civilians dealing with coronavirus tragedy
TAPS families of the fallen are no strangers to isolation after loss. TAPS President and Founder Bonnie Carroll shares how their experience is helping others dealing with COVID-19.
Government Relations / Benefits
- US senators seek probe of veterans homes after virus deaths
A group of U.S. senators is seeking an investigation into the Department of Veterans Affairs’ oversight of homes for aging veterans amid a spate of coronavirus deaths at the state-run centers.
- Senator pushes for hazard pay for guardsmen, active-duty troops on coronavirus response deployments
One of the most prominent veterans serving in Congress is pushing her colleagues to approve hazard pay for troops working on the front lines of the coronavirus response, arguing the risk warrants that designation.
- In coronavirus crisis, National Guard, Reserves, veterans are struggling, need financial help
The flood of financial assistance applications received has revealed just how greatly, and quietly, our service members and veterans are struggling during this time.
- With IRS Deadline Looming, Some Veterans May Still Wait Months for Stimulus Money
The Internal Revenue Service has set a deadline of May 5 for veterans to register for dependent payouts, after initially saying they would have only two days. But the guidance, along with warnings that veterans who don't complete the form now will have to wait until next year for their stimulus funds, has left some confused and scrambling.
- More aid sought for military families stranded by new defense travel rules
Democratic lawmakers are pushing Defense Department leaders to ensure travel restrictions on troops related to the coronavirus outbreak don’t result in financial disaster for their families.
- Soldiers' GoFundMe Campaigns May Get Them in Legal Trouble, Army Warns
Soldiers who turn to crowdfunding websites to solve COVID-19-related financial troubles may end up breaking Army standards of conduct, according to an Army legal expert.
- Michigan copies GI Bill benefits for civilians as calls increase for expanding the program beyond the military
Another prominent public policy voice called for an expansion of the popular GI Bill education program beyond military members in light of the recent coronavirus outbreak, as Michigan leaders have already moved to copy the program for health workers and other frontline responders.
- Veterans View: Help for veterans to navigate the COVID-19 crisis
The impact of COVID-19 restrictions impacts everyone. The Veterans Administration is no exception. This piece is focused on sharing important information as it relates to veterans and access to compensation and pension benefits, medical benefits and burial benefits.
- Get anytime access to mental health support with mobile apps
To make sure veterans don’t miss out on mental health care, VA has a number of ways veterans can maintain their well-being no matter where they are, including mobile apps, self-help trainings, videos, and websites.
- Military families need more telehealth options during coronavirus pandemic, senators say
Military families need better access to telehealth services, especially in the area of mental health, to help them avoid risking exposure to the coronavirus, say two senators who have written a letter to the Defense Health Agency.
- Tricare Limits Some Prescription Refills During Pandemic
The Defense Health Agency and its Tricare pharmacy benefits manager, Express Scripts, are limiting prescriptions for several medications used by hospitals to treat patients with the novel coronavirus.
- Some military commissaries limit meat purchases as possible shortages loom
Commissary customers in the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico are finding new limits on how much fresh beef, pork, chicken and turkey products they can buy.
- DoD Miscalculated Savings of Proposed Commissary-Exchange Merger, Watchdog Says
The federal government's accounting agency has taken issue with the cost estimates used by the Defense Department to support a proposed merger of its commissary system with the military's three separate exchange services.
- Military Child Care: Good or Good Enough?
(We Are The Mighty)
Military families cannot maintain financial security without stable employment, and they cannot maintain stable employment without adequate childcare.
Grief / Trauma / Mental Health
- VA encourages Veterans to make their mental health a priority
This Mental Health Month, learn more about VA’s mental health resources and hear Veterans’ stories of recovery.
- Demand for mental health services in military community surges amid pandemic stress
As the coronavirus crisis extends and financial pressures become even heavier, mental health experts say military families and veterans are reaching out more for assistance.
- ‘You can only watch so much Netflix’: Military leaders in Japan worry about troops’ mental health during pandemic
(Stars and Stripes)
Most service members, their families and civilian employees attached to those bases have adjusted to restricted movements, wearing face masks and coping with limited dining and recreational opportunities. It remains unclear how much of an impact all this is having on troops’ mental health, but there are signs leaders are concerned.
- Seeking the Military Suicide Solution Podcast, Episode 16: Terri Tanielian
This podcast from Military Times examines the alarming rate of military and veterans suicide, offering new insights based on research and effective clinical and peer support practices in suicide prevention.
- Military spouses can take these steps if a service member has mental health concerns
It can be lonely being married to a depressed or suicidal military (or civilian) individual. If that is you, you are not alone; there are a multitude of people standing with you.
- How We've Changed the Way We Think About Mental Health by Arianna Huffington
The stress, anxiety, isolation, and uncertainty of this time are not only raising awareness but pushing us as individuals and as a society to have the honest conversations we always needed to have about mental health—especially when it comes to taking action.
- Signs your coronavirus anxiety has turned serious, threatening your mental health
While some of us may be coping well right now, experts worry our emotional resilience will begin to fray as the threat of COVID-19 drags on.
- Crisis Hotlines Offer Glimpse Of Mental Health In The Pandemic
America's crisis centers and hotlines are themselves in crisis. As people grapple with fear, loneliness and grief, on a grand scale, those stresses are showing up at crisis hotlines.
- ‘Everyone is experiencing uncertainty’: Mental health counseling in high demand during pandemic, providers say
Health concerns related to the deadly pandemic and prolonged isolation due to stay-at-home orders are taking a toll on the mental health of residents, counselors and other providers said.
- Musicians Who Have Opened Up About Their Mental Health Struggles
In recent years various artists have spoken out in the hopes of destigmatizing everything from depression to bipolar disorder and more by opening up about their own struggles. See what they've shared and said to encourage others.
- 3 Tips to Avoid WFH Burnout
(Harvard Business Review)
Millions around the globe have made a sudden transition to remote work amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In this unprecedented situation employers should be concerned about the long-term risks for employee burnout.
- Big Ten details leaguewide mental health initiative
The Big Ten Conference announced Monday that it has undertaken a league-wide initiative to promote mental health among its student-athletes, coaches and athletic administrators.
- How to Write a Condolence Letter According to a Grief Counselor, an Etiquette Expert, and a Minister
You need to know how to write a condolence letter, but there’s no perfect thing to say when someone dies. There are no magic just-right words that will erase another person’s pain, or change their reason for feeling it.
- Grief on the Front Line--and Beyond
In their own voices, health care workers from across the country reflect on coping with the coronavirus.
- Reinventing Grief in an Era of Enforced Isolation
When my father died, of leukemia, as the coronavirus pandemic accelerated, my family and I became members of a vanguard that we’d never aspired to join.
- Handling Grief In The Workplace
Many people in the world are experiencing the loss of someone they know because of the coronavirus pandemic. When that occurs, how do you, as a leader, handle the ensuing grief in your organization?
- Pentagon working on guidance for garrison commanders in states lifting coronavirus stay-at-home orders
As some states look to relax constraints on non-essential businesses and opening up public spaces, military installations around the country are grappling with how far to loosen their own coronavirus lockdowns to get in line with their neighbors.
- COVID-19 hospitalization rate 50 times higher in the military than in overall US
With 100 coronavirus-positive service members hospitalized so far, the military’s cumulative hospitalization rate of 2 percent is 50 times higher than the U.S. hospitalization rate reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- National Guard COVID-19 update: Troop level at more than 46,500, 86 percent on Title 32 orders
The number of Guard troops mobilized in the effort to cope with the coronavirus pandemic is once again increasing.
- USS Theodore Roosevelt sailors still showing virus symptoms despite month of isolation
Some sailors attempting to walk back on board the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt are showing new signs of the virus that sidelined the ship more than a month ago, despite testing negative for COVID-19.
- The Citadel is staging poolees for observation due to COVID-19 before shipping to boot camp
(Marine Corps Times)
The Citadel, a public and military college in Charleston, South Carolina, is temporarily staging incoming poolees headed for recruit training for 14 days for observation due to COVID-19.
- Esper Says Pentagon Is Bracing for a ‘New Normal’ That Lasts ‘An Extended Period of Time'
The U.S. military is preparing to live with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic for the foreseeable future, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Monday.
- Defense secretary to follow Fauci’s advice to keep troops safe
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said readiness and training have suffered amid the coronavirus outbreak and that the military will be following White House coronavirus task force leader Dr. Anthony Fauci's advice in making decisions on how best to protect the force.
- The High-Tech Gear That’s Helping the US Military Decide Where to Send Medical Troops Next
The U.S. military doctors and nurses who deployed to New York City in April brought a new iPhone app that gives their commanders a real-time look at the situation. It could be a preview of how leaders manage troops on the battlefield.
- 29 Purple Hearts approved for injuries sustained in Iran ballistic missile attack
U.S. Central Command said 29 Purple Hearts have been approved for soldiers injured in the Jan. 8 Iran ballistic missile attack that struck two Iraqi bases housing coalition troops.
- AFSOC resumes jump, dive, mountain operations after deaths
(Air Force Times)
Air Force Special Operations Command has now recertified all its units to conduct parachute, dive and mountaineering operations after a review sparked by the deaths of two airmen last fall.
- Infantryman who died in non-combat incident in Iraq identified
A service member with Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve died in a non-combat related incident in Erbil, Iraq, May 4.
- Toxic drug combination killed two airmen in Spangdahlem dorm
(Air Force Times)
Two airmen who were found dead in a dorm room at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany in January had a toxic, fatal combination of drugs in their systems.
- 19-Year-Old Marine from New York Is the Latest Military Fitness Test Death
Pfc. Tyrell J. Audain was in the midst of a physical fitness test more than two weeks ago at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, when he collapsed.
- Coast Guard cooks its way to the top
(We Are The Mighty)
The United States Coast Guard Culinary Team beat 19 competitors to be named 2020 Joint Culinary Training Exercise Installation of the Year.
- VA coronavirus deaths skyrocket as department revises its records
The number of deaths from coronavirus connected to the Veterans Affairs health system rose more than 80 percent over the last week as department officials updated their public accounting of cases of the fast-spreading virus.
- VA enhances National COVID-19 Reporting Summary tool
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today that it enhanced its National COVID-19 Report Summary website that provides a real-time look at the status of COVID-19 patients who have been tested or treated at VA facilities.
- Two employees test positive for COVID-19 at Armed Forces Retirement Home campuses
Two employees at the Armed Forces Retirement Home have tested positive for COVID-19, officials said — one at each of the two campuses, in Gulfport, Miss., and in Washington, D.C.
- 'It's a sinking ship': COVID-19 deaths triple at state-run vets nursing home in Pennsylvania
(Task and Purpose)
Almost every day over the last two weeks, military veterans and their spouses have been dying at a top-rated, state-run nursing home in Chester County ravaged by the coronavirus.
- Local veterans honored with socially distant parade, 100th birthday celebration
Dozens of volunteers paid tribute to local veterans and their families with a patriotic parade that also served to celebrate one honoree’s 100th birthday.
- A golf instructor finds purpose in helping veterans with PTSD during the lockdown
During the coronavirus lockdown, golf pro devotes time to help veterans.
Military Family News
- Family blasts fatal T-38 crash report as 'grossly incomplete,' demands simultaneous landings end
(Air Force Times)
The Wilkie family said crash report should have included the fact their son was attempting to land simultaneously alongside another T-38 — with which his plane collided during the doomed landing — as an “obvious contributing cause” to the crash.
- Lead Paint, Asbestos Mitigation Plans Fall Short in Military Family Housing, IG Finds
Military families living in 38,000 housing units owned and operated by the U.S. government face health and safety risks such as lead-based paint, asbestos, radon and contaminated drinking water because the services have failed to monitor these threatening living conditions, the Defense Department's Inspector General found.
- Navy Football Alum Battling ALS: 'No Family Should Ever Have to Go Through This'
Tidwell, a standout linebacker for the Navy football program from 2003 through 2006, was officially diagnosed with ALS in August 2019 following independent evaluations conducted at Walter Reed Naval Hospital and the University of Virginia Medical Center.
- How one Navy spouse will literally walk through her husband’s next deployment
(We Are The Mighty)
In the military space, there are all kinds of strength, variations of independence and endless examples of courage. Jennifer Mabus, 2018 Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) thru-hiker and new Navy spouse is planning to literally walk away from it all (again) with her husband's next deployment.
Across the TAPS Family
- Remembering TAPS Family Member, Cheryl Lankford
The TAPS Family shares memories of their friend and Gold Star Spouse, Cheryl Lankford, who passed away this week from cancer.
- How we spend our time at home | TAPS Saturday Morning Message
Survivors share what they are doing now that they have to spend time at home.
- 2020 Virtual National Military Survivor Seminar and Family Program | TAPS
Register to join us, virtually, this Memorial Day weekend to honor our fallen heroes. The Virtual National Military Survivor Seminar and Family Program is offered to all those grieving the loss of a loved one who served in our nation's Armed Forces.
Other Coronavirus News
- Ousted HHS official files whistleblower complaint on coronavirus response
Dr. Rick Bright's complaint says Health and Human Services leadership was slow to react and pushed contracts "based on political connections."
- How The Coronavirus Hijacks Our Defenses : Shots - Health News
The coronavirus can infect the entire human respiratory system, all the way down to millions of tiny air sacs in your lungs. Here's a quick explainer of how the virus — and an immune system overreaction — can make us sick.
- 10 ways to celebrate Mother’s Day while social distancing
The coronavirus may have cancelled the usual Sunday service, brunch or visit, but you can still spend time and share love.
- 7 Coronavirus Work From Home Tips
In the midst of the new coronavirus pandemic, many companies are implementing voluntary or mandatory work-from-home policies. That means lots of us are dealing with an unusual challenge: working from home for the first time, full-time.
Banner photo courtesy of the School of Advanced International Studies | John Hopkins University.