The military has a moral obligation to take care of veterans and the relatives of service members, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told attendees at the 2014 Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors Honor Guard Gala last night.
Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was the keynote speaker for the event. Cameron Santos-Silva, a surviving child, presented Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, chief of staff of the Air Force, with the TAPS Honor Guard Gala Military Award.
Recipients of TAPS awards, the chairman said, are “honored for something that I consider to be absolutely extraordinary.”
“What holds us together as a force is that we trust each other,” the chairman said. “You don’t walk out of a forward-operating base in Iraq or Afghanistan or anyplace and put yourself in the cockpit of an aircraft or deploy on a ship unless you trust that if something happens, the man or woman to your right or left knows what they have to do.
And just as important,” he added, “is that your family you’ve left behind will be cared for.”
TAPS’ mission, Dempsey said, is “absolutely essential to who we are as a profession. Establishing, maintaining and living up to that bond of trust absolutely has to exist among our ranks in peace and in war.”
The chairman commended Bonnie Carroll, TAPS’ president, for founding the organization.
“It’s the brilliance of Bonnie Carroll that brings us here tonight,” Dempsey said.
“Can you imagine,” he added, “if, in 1994, she hadn’t begun to put this organizations together, so that when we really needed it in 2002 and beyond, we [might not have had a] public-private partnership that we could fall back on to take care of the survivors of those who served and gave their lives in the protection of their country?”
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkAFPS)