Letters from TAPS: From the Peer Mentor Team

Author: Claire Hunter

Claire Hunter

Dear TAPS family,

Spring is upon us and soon we will see the trees and flowers begin to blossom. We’ll begin to see signs of new growth everywhere we look, and we will feel a noticeable difference between the seasons of winter and spring. 

As I approach spring and the concept of new growth, I am immediately reminded of our team of TAPS peer mentors. As members of the TAPS family, mentors have experienced the loss of a precious loved one serving in the military. They have gone through the winter-like period in which nothing seems to blossom and life seems to stop. Now they find themselves in a season where life is more apparent and growth is not impossible.

TAPS peer mentors are survivors who are at least 18 months beyond their own loss. They have faced all of the firsts including the first anniversary of the death and the first holiday season without their loved one. When they feel they are at a place in their own grief journey to support another survivor one-on-one, they complete a two part training process and volunteer to connect with a more newly bereaved survivor who has requested a mentor.

TAPS peer mentors are the embodiment of hope that each survivor who comes to TAPS seeks. They symbolize new life as they help guide newly bereaved survivors toward the path of remembering the love and celebrating the life of their loved one.

Could you be a mentor?

If you are interested in being a TAPS Peer Mentor, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Am I emotionally prepared to listen to another person’s story without it reopening my own wounds? 
  • Have I reached a point in my own grief journey that being present for another survivor would further my own healing? 
  • Do I have the time in my schedule and the desire to build and nurture a relationship with a newly bereaved survivor? 
  • Would I be comfortable building and nurturing this peer relationship mostly over the phone and through email? 

Above all, each peer mentor comes to TAPS in his or her own time. When the time is right for you, you can sign up for our peer mentor training. The two-fold training process includes online training as well as classroom training. The online training consists of eight parts covering topics like military grief and traumatic grief. A short exam follows. Classroom training goes hand in hand with the online training and covers additional topics like listening skills and appropriate communication. TAPS offers the in-person classroom instruction throughout the year at our Regional Survivor Seminars and annually at the National Military Survivor Seminar in Washington, DC.

Would you like a mentor?

Our peer support network is a circle of comfort, warmth, and understanding. If you would like to connect with another person who will reach out to you and offer companionship on this journey, you can request a TAPS peer mentor: someone who will listen and offer you their time, their experience, and their compassion. Mentors are matched one-on-one to new survivors based on a variety of factors related to their story and grief experience.

The ultimate goal of our Peer Support Network is to bring together survivors who have characteristics in common so that both survivors are comfortable and that it is a mutually healing connection. We also hope that these connections eventually blossom into lifelong friendships. 

Claire Hunter 
Peer Mentor Program

Note: To Request a Peer Mentor, complete the Survivor Intake form.  To Become a Peer Mentor, complete the Peer Mentor Application.