Zaneta Gileno works for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), a non-profit that supports people who lost loved ones in the military. As the Director of Community-Based care, Gileno helps connect people to individualized grief counseling. She spoke with Dr. Heidi Horsley during the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling conference about her work and personal experience with TAPS. Peer support is what Gileno believes most helps children who lose a parent in the military, as Gileno lost her own father at a young age.

Dr. Horsley also utilizes the services of TAPS, and knows first-hand just how critical the program is. “The opportunity to speak to your loss” is key, says Gileno. “I wasn’t afforded that opportunity as a child and I see what a difference it makes,” she says. TAPS offers Good Grief camps, which brings children together, gives them a chance to talk and share, and allows them to get that grief work started. She recalls that when her mother came to her to tell her that her dad died, it was just the beginning of a conversation that would ultimately last a lifetime.

Military-Minded

Losing a parent in war is a unique experience that automatically creates a community around the loss. However, TAPS also works with widows, widowers and parents who lost their child in the military. A variety of events and dates can trigger memories, from birthdays to a child growing up and getting married without a parent at the big day. Understanding that loss support network may be something that’s helpful throughout life.

You’ll always carry that loss with you, but it doesn’t have to be something that defines you in a negative way, explains Gileno. Maintaining open lines of communication, especially with children, is something parents may need to work on for several years.

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Jessica Tyner Mehta

Jessica (Tyner) Mehta, born and raised in Oregon and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, is the author of numerous books including poetry, fiction, short story collections, and creative non-fiction. Her novel The Wrong Kind of Indian won gold at the 2019 Independent Book Publisher Awards (IPPYs). She’s received several writer-in-residency posts around the world, including the Hosking Houses Trust post with an appointment at The Shakespeare Birthplace (Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK), Paris Lit Up (Paris, France), the Women’s International Study Center (WISC) Acequia Madre House (Santa Fe, NM), the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts (Nebraska City, NE), the National Parks Art Foundation at Gettysburg National Military Park, and a Writer in the Schools (WITS) residency at Literary Arts (Portland, OR). Jessica received a Halcyon Art Labs fellowship in Washington DC from 2018-19 to curate an anthology of poetry by incarcerated and previously incarcerated indigenous women and is also a member of the Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Incubator co-hort in Chicago. She is the recipient of a 40 Under 40 Award from the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED), received a Barbara Deming Award in Poetry, and was a Top 10 Pick from Portland Story Theatre for “Indian Burns.” She serves as the Associate Poetry Editor for Exclamat!on, a British peer-reviewed journal, Associate Poetry Editor for Bending Genres literary journal, poetry editor at Airlie Press, and is the former President of the Board of Directors for VoiceCatcher journal and non-profit. Jessica has led writing workshops around the globe including at the International Women’s Writing Guild summer conference series and has taught poetry at various institutions including The Loft Literary Center. She has received numerous visiting fellowships, including the Everett Helm Visiting Fellowship at The Lilly Library at University of Indiana Bloomington and The Eccles Centre Visiting Fellowship at The British Library. Jessica’s doctoral research focuses on the intersection of poetry and eating disorders. During her time as a post-graduate researcher, she received a Researcher-led Initiative Award and Humanities PGR Activities Award from the University of Exeter. Jessica founded MehtaFor, a writing services company, in 2012 which serves a variety of clients including Fortune 500 enterprises and major media outlets. MehtaFor received two national bronze awards for Startup of the Year in 2015. Jessica offers complimentary writing services to Native American students and non-profits based in the Pacific Northwest and/or serving Native communities. She received her master’s degree in writing from Portland State University in 2007 and established The Jessica Tyner Scholarship Fund in 2013. It’s the only scholarship exclusively for Native Americans pursuing an advanced degree in writing or a related field. Jessica is also a registered yoga instructor (500-RYT®), registered children’s yoga teacher (RCYT®), certified Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider (YACEP®), and NASM-certified personal trainer (CPT). She’s the founder of the Get it Ohm! karma yoga and strength movement, which offers free classes to groups that don’t have access to traditional yoga studios and/or don’t feel comfortable in such environments.

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