NFL, TAPS Make Browns-Vikings ‘Across Pond’ Showdown Benefit to Families of Fallen Heroes — Especially in Texas

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Photo courtesy USA TODAY Sports

LONDON — The National Football League’s military nonprofit partner, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) provides care for the families of America’s fallen military heroes.

Leading up to the Oct. 29 Vikings-Browns game at Twickenham Stadium, both hosted an exclusive experience in London, binding families from the United States and the United Kingdom together to connect and build a stronger community.

“TAPS has been partnering with the NFL for a few years to raise awareness and create meaningful opportunities for the families of America’s fallen,” said Diana Hosford, the TAPS Sports and Entertainment Officer. “Through our joint efforts, more than 2,000 survivors have attended events and honored their heroes with NFL teams. For this particular London game, we invited families with a connection to the UK as well as families whose loved one was a fan of the Vikings or Browns.”

Of the near 6,000 new survivors in 50 states that have connected with TAPS in 2017, more than 400 — almost 10 percent — come from the state of Texas.

According to the Office of the Texas Governor, The Lone Star State is also home to 15 active duty military installations — Killeen’s Fort Hood, El Paso’s Fort Bliss and San Antonio’s Lackland Air Force Base, for example — with an economic impact of nearly $150 billion.

UK outlets like Scotty’s Little Soldiers and the War Widows Association were key as the even unfolded, as were the Royal Air Force Widows Association and the British Legion.

TAPS, a national organization providing compassionate care for the families of America’s fallen military heroes, has offered support to more than 70,000 surviving family members of our fallen military and their caregivers since 1994.

Courtesy TAPS

“It is important for TAPS to help all those grieving the loss of a military loved one, here in America and abroad,” Hosford said. “This wasn’t our first trip to the UK, but it was our first with the NFL, and we are thankful for the league’s support. These experiences give us and our families an opportunity to create international connections of hope and healing.”

The families began the weekend with a welcome dinner with TAPS Founder and President Bonnie Carroll. They toured historic monuments around London, including the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, before attending a Ball hosted by Scotty’s Little Soldiers, a local organization that brings comfort and care to surviving children of military parents. The families also attended the Vikings’ practice on Saturday before participating in a meet-and-greet with players. The weekend experience concluded at the Vikings-Browns game on Sunday.

“TAPS is so grateful to the NFL for their continued support of the families of America’s Fallen Heroes,” Carroll said. “This wonderful opportunity to travel to England and connect with British surviving family members and organizations like Scotty’s Little Soldiers, Royal Army Widows’ Association, War Widows Association, Bereaved Family Support Groups of SSAFA and Royal Air Force Widows Association, helped to create international reconciliation and connections of hope, healing, and care. It was extraordinary.”

The NFL and TAPS partnership offered families the opportunity to come together around football and extend their network of support. Participating American TAPS families included surviving children, spouses, siblings and parents, either with special connections to UK with a loved one having served or died there, and others with special connections to the Browns or Vikings. These families shared their stories with British surviving family members and created new memories as they work together to move forward along their grief journey.

“This weekend was a great opportunity to unite survivors on both sides of the Atlantic to honor their loved ones,” said Anna Isaacson, the NFL senior vice president of social responsibility. “The NFL is proud to support TAPS as they continue their incredible work in the United States and extend support to families abroad.”

The Atlanta Falcons and TAPS will honor fallen heroes with their full roster during their Salute to Service game on Nov. 12, 2017, when they host the Dallas Cowboys.

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