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Noble Efforts

By Rachel Parks

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Gold Star Mom Turns Grief To Encouragement By Writing
(August 8, 2010)

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Gold Star mother and author Deborah Tainsh hugs Warrior Transition Brigade squad leader, Staff Sgt. Miguel LeFlore. Tainsh visited the WTB Friday (July 23, 2010) to visit with Soldiers and to talk to them about grieving and coping with the loss of a battle buddy. Gloria Montgomery, WTB Public Affairs
 Fort Hood Sentinel (July 29, 2010) -- Writing has always been an important part of Deb Tainsh's life. She wrote poetry and kept journals over the years but when tragedy struck her family, writing turned into a way to cope and to help other people through some of the darkest hours of their lives.

On Feb. 11, 2004, Sgt. Patrick Tainsh was killed in Iraq while stationed with the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment. While working through her grief, Deb picked up the pen again.

“Patrick was my husband's only child. This man that I loved, this son that I loved, I could not let him be forgotten,” she said.

When Deb was finished writing she realized she had a book, “Heart of a Hawk.” The book chronicles Patrick's life and death as well as the grief his family lived with.

“It's our personal journey,” Tainsh said. “I talk about it all. The good, the bad, the ugly.”

But Tainsh wasn't done yet. She felt she still had more to offer other Gold Star families reeling from loss.

“We will never be the same. We are learning how to carry on in our new normal,” she said.

A year after Patrick was killed, Tainsh and her husband were watching television when they saw a commercial for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. Both of them went on to become peer mentors with

TAPS.
In the course of meeting other families and attending events designed for those who had lost a servicemember, an idea for another book began to form for Tainsh.

“Often times what helped parents the most was hearing the stories from other Gold Star families and validating their emotions,” she said.

But she wondered how families who lived in isolated areas or didn't have the means to travel to events where Gold Star families met, coped with their losses. So Tainsh turned to the internet and the large group of Gold Star families she had met over the years and asked if a book detailing the individual stories of servicemembers who were killed in action would be helpful.

 The response was overwhelming. Tainsh created an extensive questionnaire for the families to fill out about their loved ones and gave them a year to send their responses back to her. At the end of the year, 25 families had responded. The book, “Surviving the Folded Flag” was released on the 2010 Memorial Day weekend.

Another Gold Star mother, Ruth Holler, who lost her son, Lance Cpl. Luke Holler on Nov. 2, 2006, in Iraq, where he was stationed with 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, said both of the books Tainsh wrote were important tools as she and her family worked through their grief.

“As I started reading I could find myself in there. One story could have been my story. The mother talked about how she struggled with her faith. It was good to connect and hear and feel how we're all in the same boat and the struggles are the same,” said Holler.
Tainsh was at Fort Hood for the TAPS events and to sign her books at the Clear Creek Post Exchange on Sunday. The proceeds of both of her books go back to the TAPS program.

Tainsh continues to write and has continued to seek out survivors in need of comforting. Over the years she has become more active with the Wounded Warrior program. She has a new book, specifically aimed at wounded warriors, that is just getting off the ground. Her latest project is a book filled with letters of encouragement from Gold Star families to the wounded.

“I feel as a Gold Star family, we have something to offer the wounded warriors. We are all carrying grief for the same people,” she said.

“Dear Warrior and Hero – Encouragement from Gold Star Families of the Fallen,” is not currently available to the public, but Tainsh is doing all she can to get it into the hands of wounded warriors. Her stop at Fort Hood was just the first of what she hopes will be an expanded program.

Tainsh said each day she strives to tell her son's story and help and encourage others along the way. “This is Patrick's legacy. We want his life to touch as many other lives as possible,” she said.

By Rachel Parks
Fort Hood Sentinel
Copyright 2010

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