Caregiver to Survivor: Walking with You


TAPS recognizes the urgent need to support families who have lost a military loved one after having been a caregiver.  At TAPS we understand, and we’re here to support our Survivors as they navigate a grief journey that may have begun even before the death of your loved one.

The leading cause of death of our military loved ones is reported by survivors to be illness, but we know there are many Survivors that experienced a loss after having cared for a loved one who was traumatically injured or diseased as well. Sadly, many Survivors have shared that their loved ones illness is often connected to their service overseas, where they were exposed to burn pits and many other toxic exposures.

At TAPS we are mindful of the differences present when someone has been a caregiver before they have transitioned to a survivor. That’s why we integrate subject matter expertise into all of our peer support services, programs and referrals to specifically support you on your grief journey.

We invite you to explore our resources and encourage you to reach out for support and take advantage of our programs.  Our mission is a simple but powerful one: to provide comfort, care, and resources to all those grieving the death of a military loved one.  We are here for you.


Army Medical team


Why is TAPS Engaged

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Death by illness is one of the leading causes of death among military survivors. As of 2020, over 12,000 survivors report a death by illness and sadly that number increases by more than 2,200 each year based on current trends.

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Time is of the essence. Our survivors expect action and advocacy to honor the memory of their loved one. TAPS is uniquely positioned to provide a loving home for the community of caregivers who transition to survivors.

What Government Must Do


The government must take action in the following ways:


Build public awareness and community support. Advocate for legislative action and policy change.

Research toxins, illnesses and prevention measures. Field protective gear and alternative disposal methods for toxins.

Expand healthcare and benefits for veterans, caregivers and survivors.

Fund all of the above.


For more information, contact us at



to support and connect you as you face a diagnosis of a terminal illness of your military loved one.

Military and Veteran Caregiver Network and Red Cross Logos

The Military and Veteran Caregiver Network with the American Red Cross is an official partner of TAPS. Get connected with peers that have walked in your shoes as well as resources to help you move forward in the days ahead.

Elizabeth Dole Foundation Logo

Hidden Heroes with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation connects military caregivers to a community of support, local events and resources to help them along their caregiving journey.

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from past and present generations to impact the future.

soldiers against burning fire
Health effects from Airborne Hazards

Veterans who were deployed to the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and other dusty environments were often exposed to sand, dust, pollution and other airborne particles.

vietnam scene
Agent Orange During Vietnam War

This herbicide resulted in many long-term health problems for veterans and their family members. Learn the facts, locations used, related diseases, birth defects, benefits available and many other resources on how to get help.

Share Your Story
Share Your Story

Your stories can bring hope and healing to our TAPS families. If you would like to share about your caregiving experience or a story about your grief journey, we would love to hear from you.


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an effort to increase public awareness and community support.

Bonnie embraces survivor
Toxic Exposure: Raising Awareness

TAPS is leading the way in curating a library of legislation, medical studies, literature, and research relevant to toxic exposure in the military.

walking up steps to congress
Taking Action: Open Burn Pit Registry Act

Cancer is a leading cause of death among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. A surviving mom takes action in support of the new legislation.

caregiver worried
Coping with Anticipatory Grief

Anticipatory grief makes us keenly aware of "what was" when the threat of death seems imminent.

Gazelles running
Who Am I Now? Life After Caregiving Ends

Learn how to effectively cope with the range of emotions that may occur when caregiving has ended.

Need to Know:

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for legislative and policy change, working to prevent exposures to deadly toxins and ensure that service members, veterans, their families and survivors receive the healthcare and benefits they have earned.

us capitol
TAPS Statement for the Record: Toxic Exposure

Written by TAPS Policy, read the full statement to the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs on Toxic Exposure: Examing the VA's Presumptive Disability Decision-Making Process.

Toxic Exposure in the American Military Act

The TEAM Act (S. 4393) is the culmination of two years of collaboration by the TEAM Coalition seeking to improve benefits for veterans made ill from toxic exposures. Flyer | Talking Points | Roundtable

veteran and american flags
Veteran Caregiver Legislation as Program Expands to Pre-9/11 Veterans

Representative Hudson introduced H.R. 5701, the Care for the Veteran Caregiver Act, on January 30, 2020, expanding eligibility to include veterans injured before 9/11.

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Veterans' Affairs Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC)

PCAFC now offers enhanced clinical support for caregivers of eligible Veterans who are seriously injured effective October 1, 2020. Email Newsletter


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survivors with TAPS life saving resources and programs that provide compassionate care so they can best honor their loved one’s entire story.

TAPS Family at Suicide Seminar
Survivor Seminars

TAPS hosts in-person seminars that are inclusive, discussion-based events and includes peer-to-peer grief support, access to resources and experts, grief workshops, art therapy, family entertainment, and LOVE.

Survivor Comforted
Survivor Care Team

TAPS staff are trained and caring survivors that reach out to new surviving family members as peer professionals. They understand well the road you are traveling and are available around the clock to help.

TAPS Peer Mentors
Peer Mentor Program

Illness loss survivors are paired with survivors who have experienced a similiar loss. They are there to listen when you need someone to talk to, to be a friend when you're feeling lonely, and to celebrate the triumphs.

Suicide Survivors at seminar
Suicide Loss Support

Our unique approach to helping survivors recover from suicide loss can help guide you and your family through "healthy grief," and put you on a path toward healing and growth.

Survivors at Seminar
Connect Online

Stay connected with survivors of illness loss virtually by joining TAPS in our online video chats. Several groups meet nearly every day of the week and is moderated by survivor staff members and Peer Mentors.

Youth Programs
Youth Programs

Led by experts in the fields of child development, mental health and education, TAPS Youth Programs provide safe spaces for military children to explore grief and embrace healing.

Surviving Women Morning Exercise
Women's Empowerment Program

Connect with other surviving women to help comfort you in your grief. Discover how a supportive sisterhood can provide inspiration and improve your life.

Bonnie Carroll at podium
Grief and Loss Education

The TAPS Institute for Hope and Healing® provides training and education for bereavement professionals, bereaved individuals, and grieving military and civilian families.

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with government, the private sector and other nonprofits to ensure care for caregivers while their loved one is alive and to warmly transition into TAPS’s loving arms when they become a survivor.


related articles

Hear from those who have been down the road you are traveling. See additional articles on illness loss.

Coleen and husband
From Caregiver to Survivor: Finding New Purpose and Honoring Husband's Legacy

Coleen Bowman lost her husband to a rare illness related to toxic exposure. After he passed she wanted to honor him by helping other survivors.

folding the flag
K2 Widow & Accidental Advocate II - a 9/11 Story

Widow advocates for those whose lives were forever altered by their servicemember's presence at “K2”, Karshi-Khanabad, Uzbekistan, an abandoned toxic Russian airbase.

Lieutenant Colonel Todd Thomson and girls
Knowledge. Connection. Hope.

With the support of TAPS, a surviving spouse and her daughters head toward immense discovery to help them heal from the trauma losing a loved one to illness.

maggie, bill and kids
Learning to Accept – and Embrace – Uncertainty

Maggie Bainbridge has always loved having a plan for everything. But then, her husband died. Having strong Faith has helped her through uncertain times.


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