By Cheryl Rodewig, The BayonetJuly 15, 2010
FORT BENNING, Ga. -A,A When retired Marine Sgt. Maj. David and Deborah Tainsh lost their son, SGT Patrick Tainsh, to an ambush in Iraq in 2004, there was no Survivor Outreach Services organization in place at Fort Benning.
"If there had ... it would have been great," Deborah said. "It would have kept my husband and I from sitting in a very lonely and dark place for over a year. After all the services are over and everyone returns to their homes and their normal lives, we're left floating in an abyss. One thing survivors need is to be able to connect."
That's a need SOS meets. The program provides resource information, financial counseling, support groups and planned activities for Gold Star Families.
Program manager Angela Holsey said SOS helps keep them from experiencing a second loss: that of their military family.
"The military is a unique community where families have a bond," she said. "The SOS program offers support to families of the fallen and links survivors to the services they need for as long as (they need them)."
"I think it is absolutely wonderful," said Deborah, who volunteers with the program on post. "It's going to make a difference to families. For us, the greatest help has been to connect to other moms and dads and share our stories and validate our emotions, so we know we're not going crazy on this emotional roller coaster we're on. We help each other learn to carry on in our new norm. There comes a time when you want to talk. And SOS is now going to be able to provide an immediate support system to surviving family members."
SOS is currently located in Building 2624, Soldiers' Plaza, but they will open the doors of a new center in Building 359 later this summer. Although SOS does not directly offer bereavement counseling, military life consultants are on site and available free of charge for survivors.
Everyone should know about SOS, Deborah said.
"It's important for the families who have loved ones serving to know this service exists, so if their unit has a loss they know there is this support system out there to help pick up the pieces for those friends and family members," she said.
For more information about SOS, call 706-545-7517 or visit www.benningmwr.com/acs-sos.php.