ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- As millions of American families are preparing to head back to school, the National Association for Uniformed Services (NAUS) and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) have joined forces to award scholarships to family members of our Nation's fallen service members. The partnership was formed when both organizations realized that there were unmet financial aid needs for surviving family members.
"The NAUS-TAPS Scholarship for Siblings of the Fallen was established when our TAPS partners told us that family members, mostly siblings of the fallen, were unable to receive support for their academic pursuits. Our mission is to support and honor the service of the entire uniformed services community. Families serve with our service members, often enduring long separations, catastrophic injuries and, in the cases of these families, painful loss. Our collaboration allows us to honor the service, courage and future achievements of our military families," said Major General Tom Wilkerson, USMC (Ret), NAUS President and CEO.
The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) offers peer-based emotional support through an established peer mentoring network, online live chat programs, in-person care groups, and online support groups that are confidential. Survivors connect in-person with others through TAPS grief seminars and retreats for adults, and TAPS Good Grief Camps and Camp Outs for children. TAPS has assisted more than 50,000 surviving family members, casualty assistance officers, chaplains, and others supporting bereaved military families.
Part of the comprehensive casework TAPS offers survivors include information about and access to all the education benefits available to surviving military families. Since launching one year ago, the TAPS Education Support Services has helped over 750 military surviving families receive more than $49 million in federal and state benefits and private scholarships.
"All too often, surviving siblings' financial needs for higher education are overlooked. TAPS is proud to partner with NAUS to offer these scholarships to two deserving siblings," said Bonnie Carroll, TAPS President and Founder.
The 2015 NAUS-TAPS Scholarship for Siblings of the Fallen recipients are:
Nelson David Griffith, whose brother, Major Samuel Mark Griffith, USMR received the Bronze Star with Valor and Purple Heart for his honorable and courageous service in Afghanistan. Nelson Griffith graduated in the top 20 percent of his class at Harnett Central High School, located in Angier, North Carolina. This fall Griffith intends to study political science and join the Marine Corps ROTC program at Penn State University. In addition to his academic achievements, as an Eagle Scout, Griffith volunteered to lead a two-year effort that raised $40,000 and built a 9/11 and War on Terror Memorial in his hometown to honor fallen service members.
Kaytlin Muscato, whose brother, Lance Corporal Ryan Matthew Duncan, USMC, died in a motorcycle accident. Muscato, an honors student is currently enrolled in the baccalaureate nursing program at Fayetteville State University, in North Carolina. Muscato has turned her tragedy into her personal mission; now she volunteers as a Family Readiness Group care team responder, providing support for military families members dealing with fallen or injured service members. Her husband currently serves in the U.S. Army. Muscato has attended TAPS regional seminars and retreats.
"David and Kaitlyn have bright futures their fallen heroes, their brothers, would be proud of. We look forward to their future success as the living legacies of American service and sacrifice," said Carroll.
Donations to the NAUS-TAPS Scholarship for Siblings of the Fallen can be made online at www.naus.org . For information on education benefits and scholarships for military survivors, visit www.taps.org/edu. Applications for the scholarship program will be available at www.naus.org or at www.taps.org.
ABOUT NAUS: The National Association for Uniformed Services (NAUS) is the nation's only organization dedicated to maintaining a strong national defense though nonpartisan advocacy, while protecting the earned benefits of all uniformed service members, retirees and their families. NAUS, the Service Member's Voice in Government, has more than 150,000 affiliated members nationally. For additional information go to www.naus.org.
ABOUT THE TRAGEDY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM FOR SURVIVORS: 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 50,000 surviving family members of our fallen military and their caregivers since 1994. TAPS provides peer-based emotional support, grief and trauma resources, healing seminars and retreats for adults, camps for children, casework assistance, connections to community-based care, online and in-person care groups and the 24/7 National Military Survivor Helpline at 800.959.TAPS (8277) available 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.
SOURCE National Association for Uniformed Services