Memorandum of Understanding signed between leading UK and US military charities

20 June 2023

SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding, further strengthening the bond between the two organisations.

TAPS is a suitable acronym the US charity, which was founded in 1994 and offers comfort and care to anyone affected by the death of a loved who served in the US Armed Forces.

TAPS is a bugle call, revered almost, and signifies “lights out”. Its importance is on a par with Last Post, with each most commonly heard at military funerals or military commemorations.

The signing took place at SSAFA’s Central Office in London between Lieutenant General Sir Andrew Gregory, SSAFA’s CEO, and Bonnie Carroll and Diana Hosford – respectively the President and Founder of TAPS and its Vice President Sports and Entertainment.

And sport clearly has a fundamental role to play with TAPS and SSAFA.

Because grief is universal, the mission of this partnership is to bring hope and healing to all those grieving the death of a military loved one, using sports as a platform for mental health, connection, and joy.

To support this, in October 2021, TAPS invited members from SSAFA’s Military Families Affected by Suicide (MFAS) group to an American football game between the Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. An emotional occasion, it gave all parties the opportunity to meet each other, remember their loved ones, and experience a day to remember.

A year later, TAPS invited SSAFA to another gridiron game, this time at Wembley between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Denver Broncos

In March this year, a SSAFA family from MFAS and an American family, both of which have lost a loved one to suicide, spent a weekend in London – including laying a wreath at the Cenotaph – and travelling to Anfield to watch the Liverpool vs Celtic Legends charity match.

Commenting on the signing, Sir Andrew said: “Meeting with Bonnie and Diana has been inspiring; the energy they have created within TAPS is extraordinary. That energy is wholly there for the loved ones – ‘the survivors’, of those who died while serving their nation; it is unconditional on how that loss occurred. While life has changed for ever for these families, their courage and their feeling of being a part of a new family – TAPS, is both humbling and deeply moving.

I am delighted SSAFA and TAPS have formalised our partnership; we share the same values, we both have military families at the heart of our charities and we will grow our relationship as we continue to be their trusted source of support in their time of need.”

Bonnie added: “Our partnership with SSAFA represents a profound commitment to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of freedom.

With Sir Andrew and his team by our side, we will offer a strong support network for surviving families in the US and the UK. Together, we’ll harness our shared experiences and resources to promote healing, connection, and solidarity.

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