CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - A group of mothers who have lost a child serving in the Armed Forces came together in Charleston for a military mom's retreat hosted by
the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors also known as TAPS.
The organization is bringing hope and healing to families across the country.
"I remember one Sunday I finally said to him, okay Eric tell me why do you have to be a Marine," says Gina Barnhurst as she talks about her son. "We had the discussion, I said why...and he said mom 'it's what God is calling me to do.'"
Mother Kim Metcalf says her "wonderful son Michael, he had a zest for life he was very outgoing the light of his unit."
Military mothers, Barnhurst and Metcalf reminisce about their fallen heroes, their sons. Eric Herzberg was a Marine, and Michael Metcalf was an Army solider. Both were killed in the line of duty.
"Taps connects you, and you reach out to someone because you're not alone," says Barnhurst.
TAPS offers help to all people grieving the death of a loved one who served in the Armed Forces, no matter how long it's been.
"In your darkest moments, it doesn't go away, two years three years and I've talked to mothers that are 10 years," says Metcalf. "It doesn't go away."
For Barnhurst and Metcalf this retreat with other surviving moms was special.
"It's that connection, that instant connection with moms, and you look in their eyes they look in your eyes and you know," says Barnhurst.
Metcalf says she felt a boost after attending her first retreat this weekend.
"It's like a recharge of yourself, of your body of your mind...you get down after a while," says Metcalf.
The mothers say there were many highlights to the trip. Even though many of them were meeting for the first time, they say they plan to visit each other again.
"I never kayaked before and I was so scared," says Barnhurst. "I was with another Marine mom who had never kayaked and we were like we know our sons were with us because we thought we weren't going to get out of the little dock."
Metcalf says one of her favorite activities was recalling memories of her son and hearing other stories.
"We had to mention something that they did, and we had to guess which mother's child said that or that happened to, it was fun," says Metcalf
The mothers said they had a great time painting and attending a Gullah presentation at a plantation.
"We felt that [the presentation] was so moving...and at the end she looked at each of us and kind of gave what I thought was a blessing where she said we are all kind of connected," says Barnhurst.
TAPS provided lodging, most meals and all activity costs. The retreat was at the Wild Dunes Resort near the Isle of Palms Beach. TAPS also hosts regional seminars featuring activities, workshops, memorial celebrations, and special events. It provides comfort and hope 24 hours a day, seven days a week through a national peer support network and connection to grief resources, at no cost to surviving families and loved ones.
For more information on TAPS: http://www.taps.org