Georgia Gold Star widower and veteran is grateful for support through sudden tragedy

NEWNAN, Ga. — As we observe Memorial Day, many Americans are reflecting on their lost loved ones who served and died in the service of the country.

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or TAPS, established in 1994, has assisted military families with providing support and compassion to those grieving the death of someone whose life included military service.

Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel David Lloyd, who resides in Newnan, Georgia, remembers how TAPS gave him and his daughters emotional support when his wife, Army Major Pearlie Lloyd, passed away in 2006.

“It happened a couple of days before she received her doctoral degree. She was never able to wear that big robe or actually receive her degree,” Lloyd told WSB Radio’s Veronica Waters.

Lloyd and his wife were both stationed at Fort McPherson in Atlanta but transferred to Fort Gordon as she was training for her deployment mission to the Middle East.

Major Lloyd, 42, had a medical emergency ahead of her mission, eventually dying from a blood clot, leading Lloyd to discover TAPS nearly a full year later.

“I was an Army officer at the time, didn’t want to hear much about any kind of help or assistance. So, I kind of ignored all of that stuff,” Lloyd continued. He recalls that it was around 2:00 one random morning that he finally connected with TAPS, not knowing what would be on the other end of a toll-free number he spotted.

“It just so happened one night, I saw the TAPS number on the back of a magazine and here we are.”

TAPS immediately granted hope and healing to the Lloyd family, mainly his two daughters who were both affected greatly by their mother’s death.

“Before we came to TAPS, they were in the school system in Newnan as teachers and guidance counselors did the best they could, but they couldn’t really relate,” he says. TAPS gave the Lloyd family the opportunity to connect with others who have gone through similar situations.

“My oldest daughter actually opened up and finally expressed what was on her mind about the death of her mother, something she never did,” said Lloyd.

Even during the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lloyd explains how they were still able to connect with TAPS through online sessions via Facebook and eventually attending a key event that simply surprised the family. “TAPS was social media before social media was social media. Yeah, we couldn’t meet or physically get together for a while but TAPS just never stopped reaching out to us.” He added, “Everything was shut down, even sports were shut down, but TAPS worked around the pandemic and we all stayed together through the social media.”

This year’s annual Memorial Day gathering for TAPS is the first in more than a year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. When discussing his time at the TAPS national event in the Virginia-D.C. area and the importance of his attendance, Lloyd said, “It’s one thing to do things over social media, but it’s another thing to actually be around others who understand. So it felt like one big family reunion and we come together to celebrate life and not tragedy.”

For Memorial Days, Lloyd usually takes a trip to Arlington, Virginia to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and watch the president lay a wreath there, but this year, he has other plans to observe the national holiday.

“This year I plan to honor Memorial Day in Newnan and visit the memorial site. My wife’s grave is not too far, so I’ll go there, but I will be remembering with my daughters the fun times we all had together.”

Lloyd encourages everyone to visit the TAPS website at https://www.taps.org/ or https://www.taps.org/support to donate and find ways to help survivors.

Veronica Waters

Veronica Waters

News Anchor and Reporter





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