Tayler Garber’s dad had a special saying when he walked around the ship – “easy day, shipmate.” It was his way of bringing comfort and ease to his fellow sailors during deployment. Today, Tayler wears that saying around her neck and it is tattooed on her wrist to remind her of her dad.
On June 20, 2009, Tayler lost her dad, Command Master Chief Jeff Garber, at the age of 43. Tayler was just 17 years old when he passed away from a massive heart attack while deployed with Carrier Air Wing 7, aboard the USS Eisenhower in the North Arabian Sea in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and maritime security operations.
Tayler’s mom, Amy, suddenly a single parent and faced with having two daughters heading off to college and a son still in high school, had to find a way to fund their education. It was during the family’s attendance at Snowball Express in 2012, a four-day event that brings together children of fallen military heroes from all over the world in an effort to help them make new memories and honor their parent’s sacrifice, when Tayler’s mom first learned about Folds of Honor and its mission.
Since its inception in 2007, Folds of Honor has awarded over 10,000 educational scholarships to spouses and children of fallen or disabled military heroes across the U.S. Tayler was encouraged by her mom to apply. In 2013, she received the Folds of Honor Higher Education Scholarship, allowing her to attend Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she received a Business Administration Degree, majoring in Music Business.
For Tayler and her family, Folds of Honor was not only a means for her to realize her dream of attending college and put her on the path she is on today, but at such a dark period in their lives, Folds of Honor was a light. The educational scholarship from Folds of Honor allowed Tayler’s mom to breathe and realize that despite suffering this terrible loss, everything was going to be okay.
“Folds of Honor not only helped my family with the financial burden of getting an education, but the organization has always gone above and beyond for the families they support, providing a strong sense of community,” said Tayler. “Folds of Honor has become an extension of our family. I will never have the words to thank them enough for what they have done for us.”
Tayler believes that Folds of Honor encompasses her dad’s special phrase, because they allow scholarship families to have “easy days” knowing they no longer need to stress about how to fund their education. By supporting Folds of Honor, you can be part of lifting that financial burden and providing the opportunity for a student to realize their dream of achieving higher education.
For more information about Folds of Honor, please visit www.foldsofhonor.org.