TAPS Young Adults Program: A Place for Community And Transformative Healing and Growth

Author: Joelle Leek

The TAPS Young Adults Program supports 18-30 year old military surviving children and siblings. Utilizing foundational pillars of financial stability, communications, career guidance, personal development and service to others, the program helps survivors grow through their grief and become well rounded young adults. 

In March, thanks to the generosity of the NFL, fifteen survivors took part in the TAPS Young Adults New England Experience - an opportunity to learn, grow, connect, and heal with other surviving young adults in Boston, Massachusetts. New to the Young Adults Program and the TAPS staff, I was excited to support this event and intrigued to see how my fellow young adults engaged with the program and one another.

taps young adult attendees in Boston

taps young adult attendees in Boston

When reflecting on the week, community and transformation are two prominent themes that remain at the forefront of my heart. 

It was a gift to not only witness the special connections being made amongst the group, but also to feel part of a community I had been missing. I’ve been a survivor for seven years, and I have never felt so supported and understood in my grief. Peer connection is crucial when navigating loss, and I think we could all agree that the week in Boston was the space we all needed to build community. 

The transformational growth from our first evening together to our last was exponential. When coming together for the first time, many participants were friendly but cautious, unsure of what to expect from the week. However, by the end of the first day, friendships had blossomed and genuine connections had formed. Young adults were able to connect with their peers, many for the first time ever, based on their relationship with their person, sacred memories, and the feelings experienced since their loss. 

I, too, was transformed by the trust and care held within our group. As we shared our person with everyone, I found myself within a sanctuary, safe for sharing without a feeling of judgment, accompanied by understanding that you can’t find outside of TAPS. 

Our week in Boston was filled with unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, but it was the small moments of great love amongst this new family of peers that I will never forget.Our time together transformed people, perspectives, and relationships. I am forever grateful to have been a part of this experience.  

TAPS Young Adults Program

If you are a surviving child or sibling, ages 18 - 30, grieving the loss of a military loved one and looking for an understanding and supportive community, you have a home within the TAPS Young Adults Program. For more information about our program and ways to get involved, visit www.taps.org/youngadults or email youngadults@taps.org.

Joelle Leek is the Coordinator of the TAPS Young Adults Program and the surviving daughter of U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Bryce Edward Leek.