TAPS to Present 2017 Senator Ted Stevens Leadership Award to Gold Star Daughter Jaclyn Mariano

Annual Award Recognizes Outstanding Leadership on Behalf of Military Survivors, to be Presented to Surviving Daughter of Air Force Master Sergeant


ARLINGTON, Va. - The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) will present the 2017 Senator Ted Stevens Leadership Award to Jaclyn Mariano at the annual TAPS Honor Guard Gala on April 12 at the National Building Museum in Washington. The award is presented annually to a surviving family member who lost a loved one serving in the Armed Forces. It recognizes an individual who has taken their experience and demonstrated outstanding leadership on behalf of other military survivors. 

Mariano was 13 years old when her father, Air Force Master Sgt. Jude Mariano, was killed while serving in Qatar. Now 26, the Vallejo, Calif., native has become a mentor in the TAPS Good Grief Camps for other surviving children grieving the loss of a parent who served in the military.

"Jaclyn provides great comfort to other surviving family members who have lost a parent or loved one who was serving our country," said Bonnie Carroll, president and founder of TAPS. "She honors the life her father lived by serving as a role model for other children as they navigate their own grief journeys."

Mariano first came to TAPS as an attendee at the TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar, held in Washington, D.C., each Memorial Day Weekend. Since then, she has attended TAPS "survivor seminars" and retreats for surviving adult children.  When she was old enough, Jaclyn became a TAPS Good Grief Camp mentor so she could support other children of fallen heroes at TAPS regional and national events. She also serves as a TAPS peer mentor for other surviving adult children and has represented TAPS at teams4taps sporting events.

"The amazing staff and mentors in the TAPS family, taught me to listen when everyone else felt too uncomfortable to hear the stories of a loved one who has died; the person to give a hug when there were no other words; the person to cry with because I know how scary it can be;  and the person to laugh with because sometimes we don't even notice happiness is just around the corner," said Mariano, the oldest of three siblings.

Sen. Stevens left a legacy of caring for the families of our fallen military and was instrumental in the founding of TAPS. Following the Army National Guard plane crash in 1992 that took the life of his friend, Army Brig. Gen. Tom Carroll, Stevens delivered the eulogy at his funeral. Two years later, Sen. Stevens helped Bonnie Carroll found TAPS in Alaska as the national nonprofit organization offering comfort and care to anyone grieving the death of someone who served in the Armed Forces.

The late senator understood firsthand the toll traumatic and sudden loss can have on a family. His first wife, Ann Cherrington, and four others were killed in a 1978 plane crash that Stevens survived. Stevens served as an Army aviator in World War II and was a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Funds raised through the Gala will be used to support families of fallen military heroes through programs such as the TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar, National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camps, TAPS Regional Survivor Seminars; and TAPS Retreats for surviving spouses, parents, adult children and siblings.

This year's Title Sponsor is USAA and the Legacy Sponsor is HSBC Bank. Presenting Sponsors include BAE SystemsDynCorp InternationalOshkosh DefensePrudential FinancialTelos CorporationHealth Net Federal Services and United Technologies Corporation.

The evening will begin with a reception at 6 p.m. with the dinner and program to follow at 7 p.m. The National Building Museum is located at 440 G St. NW in Washington, D.C. Sponsorship information is available at www.TAPS.org/Gala or by emailing gala@taps.org.

Please email media@taps.org or call 202.588.TAPS (8277) to request interviews or additional details about the 2017 TAPS Honor Guard Gala.

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) is the national organization providing compassionate care for the families of America's fallen military heroes and has offered support to more than 70,000 surviving family members of our fallen military and their caregivers since 1994. TAPS provides peer-based emotional support, grief and trauma resources, grief seminars and retreats for adults, Good Grief Camps for children, case work assistance, connections to community-based care, online and in-person support groups and a 24/7 resource and information helpline for all who have been affected by a death in the Armed Forces. Services are provided free of charge. For more information go to www.taps.org or call the toll-free TAPS resource and information helpline at 1.800.959.TAPS (8277).