5 Ways TAPS Supports Military and Veteran Survivors

Author: TAPS

The 24 somber notes of taps sounded at the conclusion of a military funeral mark the end of a life lived in service to the United States. You don’t need to know the hero being laid to rest to be moved by the 24 notes, but those who knew this hero well — those in the midst of grief over the loss of not only a patriot, but a child, partner, parent, sibling, beloved family member, dear friend, or brother or sister in arms — often spend those 24 notes reflecting and surrendering to tears. 

While taps, the ceremonial bugle call, is a conclusion, TAPS — the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors — is the beginning for those left behind to grieve the death of an American hero. TAPS meets military and veteran survivors wherever they are in their grief — no matter their relationship to the deceased, the manner of death, or the duty status at the time of death — and supports them as a community familiar with this unique grief.

TAPS was established in 1994 to support the needs of those grieving the loss of a service member. Thirty years later, it continues to honor the fallen and comfort and empower their survivors through a unique combination of services. Here are just five of the ways TAPS supports those grieving the loss of a service member or veteran.


Woman at phone

1. 24/7 National Military Survivor Helpline

Day or night, on weekends, and on holidays, our Helpline is always answered by a compassionate, knowledgeable member of the TAPS staff. Whether a caller needs critical emotional support in the throes of grief, help navigating benefits, or anything in between, our staff stands ready to support.

Peer Support - TAPS Men Survivors

2. Peer Support

At TAPS, survivors help survivors heal. Survivors at least 18 months out from their loss can receive training and join our national network of Peer Mentors. These mentors are closely matched with newly bereaved survivors based on manner of loss and relationship to their loved one.

National Seminar - Volunteers High Five Good Grief Camp child

3. Youth Programs

Though their lives are impacted by loss, young TAPS survivors’ lives are also full of camaraderie, mentorship, emotional maturity, adventure, and fun alongside peers on the same journey of grief. Our Youth Programs staff members are experts in child development, children’s grief and loss, mental health, and education.

At TAPS, we provide safe spaces for surviving military children (ages 5-18) to explore their grief and embrace healing at Good Grief Camps and Family Camps. We also offer programming online and in person for parents and guardians of grieving children.

National Seminar - family photo

4. Specialized Survivor Programs

Throughout the year and around the country, TAPS hosts a series of Military Survivor Seminars and Good Grief Camps, including the National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp which is held every Memorial Day weekend in Arlington, Virginia. These core events offer in-person peer connection, opportunities to learn from experts in grief and loss, and time to reflect, heal, and nurture friendships that will continue to bloom even after the weekend is over.

In addition to our seminar series, TAPS offers specialized programming in person and online for women, men, children, young adults, and certain relationships to the fallen, as well as services and events for various types of loss, including the top two causes of death in service members and veterans today: suicide and illness loss. Our Family Camps, retreats, Care Groups (recurring meetings in a local area), and TAPS Togethers (pop-up events that bring survivors within a local community together) offer safe spaces to grow and heal while building community. For those survivors unable to attend in-person gatherings, our Online Community hosts Online Workshops and Online Groups for specific relationships to the deceased, types of loss, and peer groups each month, ensuring no survivor is ever far from the support of their TAPS.

Bonnie and Survivors

5. Casework Assistance

Our Casework team compassionately assists surviving families with customized support. TAPS caseworkers connect survivors to pro-bono legal assistance, emergency financial resources, state and federal benefit information, private social services support, and TAPS partners to aid in the pursuit of long-term stability and self-sufficiency.

Ways to Support TAPS

TAPS is one of the leading military service organizations, and we encourage you to join our cause. To support surviving military families, you can donate to TAPS or volunteer your time. Discover the many ways to Support TAPS.


Photos: TAPS Archives