TAPS Men's Program
TAPS understands that most men need other men to help pave the way for them to grieve. Whether you are a surviving brother, father, battle buddy, adult child, or spouse, you have a home at TAPS.
So what is it about the TAPS Men’s Program that bonds us to each other? We are men who lost loved ones who served this great country. We lean on each other to share the experience, strength, and hope that we each have inside us– no matter how far out we are from our loss. We grow stronger by knowing we can count on each other to be the energy we are all sometimes lacking from time to time. We come together because of our shared grief, and this is the common bond that keeps us coming back for more kinship.
Survivor seminars provide opportunities to connect with other men throughout a weekend of hope and healing with military survivors. We build community with one another in casual settings like our “Men’s Only Breakfasts” and Men’s Share Groups. Together, we also participate in interactive workshops where we can discuss some of the more traditional ways men reveal their unique grief.
Planned by men, led by men, and only for men, the Men's Online Group is a solid, supportive space where TAPS men can handle their grief in their way. The group is for all surviving men at any point in their grief journeys. Men from our Survivor Care Team use various session formats to keep the experience interesting, diverse, and tailored to the attendees' preferences.
Retreats and Outdoors
Through retreats and outdoor experiences, small groups of survivors who share similar losses come together over several days from across the nation to build a further sense of community. Together, we step away from the daily grind, step outside our comfort zone, enjoy incredible opportunities in unique locations, honor our loved ones, and connect with other men who understand.
“My trip to West Creek Ranch on the Montana Men’s Retreat was such a stepping stone to learning how to work through the grieving process of losing my daughter. I’m beyond blessed, and so honored I was able to attend this event.
The leaders, Don, Jon, and Doug, were so awesome and helped me in so many ways. I attended group meetings, and took part in horseback riding, archery, hiking, and fly fishing—none of which I would ever have done without the support of the TAPS leaders and ranch staff, and feeling completely comfortable with them. Spending a week with other men grieving the loss of children made me feel that I am not alone and that my thoughts and feelings are normal and valid.
Words will never describe how I truly feel about my time at West Creek Ranch. THANK YOU feels not appropriate enough; please know how much I wholeheartedly love TAPS, the opportunity I received, and the love and support I felt from the TAPS leaders and everyone at West Creek Ranch. I will carry this experience in my heart always.”
~ Stephen Burnah, Surviving Father of U.S. Army Private Nicole Ann Burnham
“The TAPS Montana Men's Retreat at West Creek Ranch was a life-changing experience that gave me hope to expect better things in the future. It went above and beyond my expectations on how much help something like this could offer. I met and bonded with 17 other men who had lost loved ones just like me, and these men are now my support system and friends. TAPS and West Creek Ranch staff were wonderful, patient, and understanding of our pain and journey. The facilitators were knowledgeable and showed a level of understanding and empathy. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for this opportunity to bond with 17 of the most caring men that I know."
~ Rad Sellner, Surviving Father of U.S. Army Private Karl Jacob Sellner
"About two weeks after losing my son, I received a phone call from Rich Cliff with TAPS inviting me to join a Men's call. We talked on the phone for an hour as I asked him questions. He, too, had the dreaded experience of having to go to the airport and receive his son home in a casket. I had just done that a few days before, and this man was the ONLY person around me who "got it." He understood what I was going through when nobody else had up to that point.
Fast forward to month after month of dialing into TAPS Men's calls and forming up alongside my band of brothers—brothers new and old to this journey. They came from all different states and time zones. They had sons and daughters, brothers, sisters, moms, dads, etc., that had perished while serving this great country. The commonality amongst us all was the grief that we shared. Real men know how to put down their armor and shield and just cry with other men. What I saw on the Men's call was not men showing stubborn machoness that I was used to, but brokenness that was understood and empathized by all that portrayed it. Some were doing better than others, not just based on time but based on their individual journeys. I have seen some men ten years out from their loss break at their first word, unable to talk; and others six months from their loss carry on a full conversation about how post-traumatic healing has been taking place in their lives."
~ Paul Gilson, Surviving Step-Father of U.S. Navy Electronics Technician Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Halpert