Get Involved, Meet Your Peers in the TAPS Young Adults Program
For military surviving children and siblings ages 18 to 30, the TAPS Young Adults Program focuses on 5 Pillars of Growth and Healing during your grief journey—personal development, career guidance, communications, financial stability, and service to others. Whether you are a TAPS Good Grief Camp graduate or new to our TAPS family, please know you have a place here.
Young Adult Online Sessions: Join TAPS Young Adults in our online Let’s Talk Grief and Social Hour sessions, which are safe places where we can connect, learn how others are coping, and strengthen bonds with peers across the country.
Young Adults Experiences & Workshops: Explore TAPS Young Adults Experiences– five-day, four-night immersion projects including community service projects, high-intensity outdoor adventures, and corporate days spent exploring career options. Attend a Young Adults workshop at a TAPS Seminar, where we address the processes of stabilization, grief work, and post-traumatic growth.
Actively Moving Forward (AMF) App: Connect, be heard, and feel understood using this new AMF social network. Get access to supportive services, such as book clubs and workshops designed to expand one’s perspective on grief and loss, learning and reading materials, and educational videos to help normalize the feelings associated with loss.
Meet Your Peers
"My name is Chandler Keeling, the TAPS Young Adults Survivor Care Team Associate. I am the surviving son of 1SG Ronald Keeling, who died in 2009. My dad’s legacy allowed me to follow my passions educationally and pursue a Master’s Degree in Art History, which I earned from the University of Utah in 2020. I joined TAPS in February of 2022 after moving back to my home state of Washington. I am here to provide support, care, and connection to TAPS resources. Whether you have questions, need help finding a grief counselor, or just want to chat about life, I'm here for you!"
"My name is Joelle Leek, the Coordinator of the TAPS Young Adults Program and surviving daughter of U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Bryce Leek. I grew up in northern New York, where my family was stationed at Fort Drum. After the loss of my father in 2015, I became passionate about helping bereaved military families. I volunteered and fundraised for various military outreach organizations throughout high school and college. I took my passions south and earned a degree in Public Relations at the University of Alabama. After graduating in December of 2021, I joined TAPS in my current position; and as a surviving child, I am thrilled to serve alongside my peers. In my role, I have the opportunity to coordinate in-person and online events for you to connect with your peers!"
“Being in the TAPS Young Adults Program has changed my life exponentially. The people there have helped me grow as a person more than I could’ve imagined doing on my own. Especially through the past couple of years in a pandemic, I needed them more than ever. To me, the Young Adults Program is all about growth and finding yourself. You find yourself through special connections and grow through the experiences and opportunities TAPS provides. I couldn’t be more grateful than I am for them.” – Surviving Son, 20
“TAPS is something I didn’t want to exist. I didn’t want anyone else to know this pain. But in the Young Adults Program, I not only found others like me who were missing someone they loved and were loved by, but also others trying to figure out the question of ‘what now?’ It is comforting in a way I cannot describe. I can’t imagine trying to do life without them.” – Surviving Daughter, 20
“I joined TAPS in 2022, which was two years after my father passed of combat-related injury/illness. I’vebeen on two trips so far, Boston and Charleston. On the Boston trip - in the context of, 'If you don't like football, why did you come to the Patriots' stadium?' - someone said to me, "Why are you here?" And I ask myself that a lot, not only in the context of within TAPS, but within my life: Why am I here? What am I trying to do? Why do I keep going?"
The answer I like most is just that I love connection. I remember Josh Gates, creator of Expedition Truth and Destination Truth, sharing something similar on the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro. On New Year’s Eve, Gates said that the connection of drinking from a smuggled champagne bottle motivated him. Seeing all of these people (from Ireland, Germany, America, and India) who met upon this mountain celebrating New Year’s together, he realized that people worldwide were doing the same thing. People in the middle of the desert, beneath the ocean in submarines, and researchers in the Antarctic, were connecting all for this single shared celebration. He wanted to be in all those vastly different places with all those vastly different people, connecting with them over something—anything—shared.
I guess that’s a lot of what it is for me, too– this connection. It's the travel, the ease of friendship among this single shared thing "even if it is something as ugly or as lonely as death", and the simplicity and silent understanding of a willingness to change, learn, meet new people, and welcome their blossoming ideas. It's to hate what happened to you, and learn that it’s okay to do so. It's to say ‘God, I’m tired!’ and have 13 other voices mumble ‘Yeah, me too!’ in unison. It’s simple, endless, and something weirdly irreplaceable. I realized that my group members had taken (even without my knowledge) their places in my heart when I saw Lydia at the airport, and she hugged me. At first it didn’t seem reasonable, as I’d seen her just hours before, but the joy I felt shook all the strangeness from it. Something about ‘goodbye’ being impermanent, changing itself to ‘see you later’ like my family prefers to say, occurred to me later. So thanks to Joelle, Chandler (who carefully plucked me from my shell), and all of TAPS for giving me this connection.” – Surviving Daughter, 20
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.