Resource Center: TAPS National Military Survivor Helpline and Website Live Chat

Author: Kyle Balduf

We all remember that day—the day the world stopped for us. We remember the knock on the door, the phone call, the person on the other end fumbling for the words to explain that life had changed forever. After the initial waves of shock rolled over us, we began to thaw, so to speak, and became acquainted with the nature of grief. Grief is patient. It waits until we are tired or have the time and space to process. It is also no respecter of sacred days. Those of us grieving the death of a loved one learn that often the most difficult moments come in the dark of night, during lonely weekends, or on holidays, when many services are unavailable.

Kyle Balduf

Because of this, TAPS chooses to make services and support available every day of the year and any time of the night or day through constant access to the TAPS helpline. Since its inception, TAPS has operated this national toll free number for survivors to receive support, information, and access to resources. The helpline is a constant connection to an array of comprehensive support services, serving as the initial gateway to TAPS, identifying needs, providing comfort, and connecting survivors to the appropriate services.

Helpline staff members are trained caregivers working around the clock to provide you with the best possible care. They have advanced degrees in areas such as counseling, social work, and pastoral counseling. They have been therapists, chaplains, and hospice workers before coming to the Helpline. TAPS has made an intentional effort to include peer survivors on the helpline staff so that when you call, you will be able to speak to a trained peer professional who can truly relate to you. The helpline staff who have lost a loved one in the Armed Forces never imagined they would endure such pain or loss, but are honored to be able to use their loss for good, by serving other survivors.

The purpose of the helpline has always been to provide you with a constant source of support from an equipped, compassionate soul who will walk with you in your grief and provide you with vital resources in your greatest time of need.

“I called the TAPS helpline today and loved the support, care, and knowledge base that the staff I spoke to conveyed,” stated one recent survivor. “I'm looking forward to learning more and getting the support our family needs.”

In December 2013, TAPS launched a new initiative to complement the helpline. For many years, TAPS has operated a number of digital communications avenues including weekly chats with other survivors and online message boards, all moderated by TAPS staff. The need to provide further avenues, for those seeking general information about TAPS services or for those who may not feel comfortable calling to speak about their loss, led to the creation of the TAPS Website Live Chat. The live chat feature allows visitors to the option of “chatting” in real time with a TAPS helpline staff member.

There may be times when you are so overwhelmed by grief that it would be challenging for you to have a conversation on the phone. But in the midst of that deep grief, you may still want to tell your story or seek some support. When a member of the helpline staff is available for chat, a pop-up box will appear as you browse the website. Simply click on the Chat Now button, and TAPS Website Live Chat will provide you with a way to communicate with TAPS staff by typing rather than verbally explaining your story and needs.

Whether you need to talk or prefer to type, don’t wait to get the support you need. TAPS helpline staff are here for you and ready to bring the light of hope into your darkness.

By Kyle Balduf, LMSW, TAPS National Military Survivor Helpline