Frequently Asked Questions

When was TAPS founded?

TAPS was founded in the wake of a military tragedy after eight soldiers were killed in a C-12 plane crash in Alaska in November 1992. Among the grieving family members was Bonnie Carroll, the surviving widow of Army Brigadier Gen. Tom Carroll. The families found comfort in offering support and sharing experiences. Bonnie founded TAPS in 1994, after conducting two years of research examining the resources available to support bereaved military families and benchmarking best practices at other peer-based support organizations. The heart of our organization is survivors helping survivors heal. A growing body of evidence supports this type of “companioning” as an effective strategy to assist the bereaved.


How many U.S. military service members die?

Deaths in the military occur due to a variety of factors, including combat, training accidents, homicide, suicide, sudden illness, toxic exposure, terrorist attacks and other causes of death. For more statistics related to death in the military, see the American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics (April 26, 2017) prepared by the Congressional Research Service. The top four leading causes of death represented by new survivors coming to TAPS in 2015 were:

  • Suicide: 33%
  • Illness: 24.6%
  • Accident: 22.1%
  • Hostile: 7.5%


How many families are impacted by military loss?

Bereavement experts tell us that for each active duty military loss, there are 10 people, on average, who are significantly impacted. They are mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, fiancés, grandparents, cousins, family friends and other relatives. In 2016, the TAPS family of survivors was comprised of:

  • 26.4% parents (includes stepparents)
  • 25.4% children (includes minor, adult, and stepchildren)
  • 17.6% spouses (includes ex-spouses)
  • 15.2% siblings
  • 15% or less of: fiancés or significant others, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws, friends or other


How many lives does TAPS touch each year?

In 2016, 4,755 new people grieving the death of a loved one who served in America’s Armed Forces connected with TAPS to find comfort and support. This is an increase over TAPS intake of new survivors in 2015. In each of the past five years, TAPS has consistently connected with more than 4,100 new survivors.


How is TAPS funded and supported?

While TAPS has a close relationship with the military service branches, ongoing TAPS programs do not receive financial support from the government or the military. TAPS has official Memorandums of Understanding/Agreement or protocols with all the service branches. TAPS is funded by the generosity of the American public, which provides donations to support the organization’s work. In addition, TAPS is the beneficiary of thousands of donated hours through our robust volunteer program.

If you’re a survivor needing support, you can request services online or call TAPS at 800-959-TAPS (8277).

If you’re interested in supporting the TAPS mission of providing hope and healing to our families of the fallen, learn more about how to get involved.