National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar and Camp
October 11 - 14, 2019
Phoenix, Arizona

National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar and Camp
October 11 - 14, 2019
Phoenix, Arizona


We have a variety of sessions available throughout the weekend. Our workshop presenters are leading experts in the field of grief and loss, and you'll have the opportunity to gain tools and resources for your grief journey. You may choose which workshops and activities to attend at your leisure.

Make sure to download the TAPS seminar mobile app. This mobile app puts advance details about the seminar right in the palm of your hand. Recommended session schedules for different grief programming and speaker information are all built into the easy-to-navigate app. There will be information about off-site activities, evening events and reminders for Good Grief Camp parents. 

You can also check out the seminar schedule.

Workshop and Activity Descriptions


Saturday and Sunday, 6:30 a.m.
Sunrise Hike
 | Hotel Lobby
For attendees ages 10 + up (under 18 must be accompanied by an adult). Led by volunteers from Changed by ​Nature, a local nonprofit organization that provides free outdoor opportunities to wounded warriors, veterans, law enforcement, first responders, disabled, handicapped, and our youth generation to get outdoors and do anything from gold panning to hiking, hunting, fishing, kayaking, 4x4ing, and much more. ​Bring water and your camera!  

Friday, 12 p.m. - 5 p.m. | Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
The Artful Grief: Open Art Studio with Sharon Strouse MA, ATR-BC, LCPAT | Suite 5001

A safe, sacred, and quiet space for attendees to explore their grief in creative ways. The studio is a richly appointed “art making sanctuary,” curated and hosted by skilled and compassionate art therapists. Whether you are a curious novice, a seasoned artist or someone who isn’t sure where to begin, the studio will meet your ongoing needs throughout the weekend. No talent required, only the willingness to be with what is in your heart, because “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Sharon will also share her own journey of healing through the creative process of collage making. A few of the collages she created will be on display as she answers questions about the images that arose from her own loss.  There will be a designated "TAPS Exhibition Space" where participants may display their art work. These heartfelt images will stimulate conversation and make tangible our shared journey. 

Saturday, 9 p.m. -10:30 p.m.
Game Night
Interactive games to decompress amongst your peers. For Young Adults, ages 18 to 25. 

Sunday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Our Family Photo Banner | Grande Building
There will be a digital photo booth in the Grande building along with a new TAPS Family banner. Bring with you new friends you’ve met this weekend, or TAPS family you’ve reconnected with to get a photo souvenir to take home … and one to put on our TAPS Family banner, too. Our journeys continue, and our TAPS family is a loving, supportive example of the healing and growth that is possible after such traumatic losses. We can “remember the dash” of our loved ones, and also live our OWN dash as legacies to them, with our TAPS family at our sides.  

Saturday, 1:30 p.m. - 3 p.m.

Recognizing and Addressing Grief & Trauma, for yourself and your Loved Ones | Dr. Shauna Springer | Salon J
Some emotions – for instance, feelings of personal shame or the wordless horror of witnessing a trauma, can block the progress we can make to heal from events that involve both grief and trauma. In the worst-case scenarios, we can remain stuck in a type of pain that is not productive, sometimes for many decades. ​Targeting trauma and grief requires us to recognize how these are ​different​ emotional experiences that require ​different​ treatment approaches. Dr. Shauna Springer, the Senior Director of TAPS Suicide Prevention & Postvention, will describe the differences between grief and trauma so that we can recognize them and address them, for ourselves and our loved ones who may be impacted by grief, trauma, or both grief and trauma. 

Finding your grief rhythm: A journey toward healing | Jennifer Keeling and Dr. Carla Stumpf-Patton | Salon I
After the death of a loved one, it can seem as if time stands still and the pain of loss will never end. In response to grief, survivors often feel unprepared by being left with the unfamiliar, and often fearful task, to cope with a sudden loss such as a death by suicide. Grief can bring with it, a rhythm or pattern of emotions which twist and turn, wax and wane, and ebb and flow, where the bereaved attempt to find ways to make it through each day in spite of the physical absence of their loved one. This session will discuss options to effectively cope with the rhythms of grief, how to regulate emotions in anticipation of significant dates or milestones, and how such concepts can help us to integrate loss in our lives as we navigate the healing process. 

Create a Vision Board…craft your future ​| Sharon Strouse | Artful Grief Art Studio: Suite 5001
A vision board is a way to visually represent what you desire in your life as you move forward. Vision boards are collages of images cut from magazines, personal photographs, and inspirational phrases glued or taped to a surface like a poster. The creative practice suggests that visualization leads to the realization of goals. Some people create vision boards yearly and others create with a more long-term perspective. The process helps to clarify goals, hopes and dreams. It helps to focus your thoughts about what is truly important, to open your mind to possibility and feel inspired to move forward. Positive thinking leads to positive outcomes, supported by the necessary “action” to achieve that future. Vision boards are motivational tools that build self-esteem, teach goal-setting, prioritizing and can make you more proactive.  Join us in the Artful Grief Studio for an experience of self-exploration grounded in your willing and open capacity to try something new.   

To Bless the Space Between: Grief and the Spiritual Realm |​ ​Rev. Laura Biddle | Salon ​ G
Day-to-Day rituals such as grocery shopping, driving kids to school, attending seasonal festivals, eating breakfast, or cooking a delicious meal, can be catalysts for deep despair and sorrow. The simple tasks of real life are reminders that life will never be the same after a suicide. Grief after suicide is excruciatingly painful, especially when it gets hold of your heart in the middle of life’s normal tasks. If you have led a faithful life, you can’t help but wonder “Where is God in all this?” The space between this new complicated life and, a spiritual realm that promises healing and comfort, may seem like an enormous chasm. Come to this workshop to explore hope beyond the suicide; love beyond the death; and faith beyond comprehension. Come bless the space between you and your loved ones.  

Why can’t we all just get along? When families get knocked out of whack after suicide loss | Dr. Frank Campbell | Salon H
Family dynamics after loss can be complicated. This presentation will examine the conflicts that arise within a family system when grief changes the dynamics. Survivors attending will have an opportunity to share struggles they have experienced to determine what support might be available or ways they can change the dynamics.   

Post Traumatic Growth: What is it? How do you know if you’ve grown? ​ | Dr. Melinda Moore | Salon F
Posttraumatic Growth is a new concept of Positive Psychology that has begun to be applied to the experiences of suicide bereaved. But, what is Posttraumatic Growth and how do you tell if you have experienced it? In this session, we will cover what Posttraumatic Growth is and what research tell us about people who are suicide bereaved, especially research on TAPS recipients and peer mentors. 

Rock A Round | Salon E
A roundtable conversation with people who have made their careers in country music - as artists, producers and songwriters.  For Young Adults, ages 18 to 25.

Saturday, 3:30 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Should I go to Therapy? Addressing Mental Health Concerns Among Survivors of Suicide Loss | Dr. Shauna Springer | Salon J
Suicide loss has a devastating impact and has been associated with increased risk of depression and, potentially, suicidal thoughts, among surviving loved ones – even for those with no history of mental health concerns. This seminar offers an honest, open conversation about risk factors and provides information about therapies that can address survivors’ needs. For example, we will discuss symptoms that may benefit from professional interventions. Dr. Shauna Springer will “de-mystify” what therapy is and how it works. She’ll describe several specific therapies such as Current Procedural Terminology (CPT), Prolonged Exposure (PE), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which can bring healing to survivors of suicide loss. She’ll also describe how TAPS partners with leading healthcare organizations and community-based providers to ensure that our survivors have access to high quality therapy, if needed.   

Understanding Why People Die by Suicide | Dr. Carla Stumpf-Patton | Salon I ​
When someone we love and care for dies by suicide, it can be overwhelming, confusing, and bring with it many emotions and questions. It can feel like our world has been split into countless fragments where we become detectives trying to understand how and if it will ever fit back together again, which often includes an endless list of questions around why and how this could have happened.  While we may never fully understand the exact thoughts in the mind of our loved one at the time they died, researchers and specialists in the field do know a lot about suicidal mind.  Understanding more around this subject matter can often help survivors of loss in the grieving process as they struggle with the self-directed questions of blame, guilt, doubt, and regret. This session will address some of the prominent theories around why people die by suicide. It will also explore some of the contributories and risk factors that can come together in forming the “perfect storm” that leads to suicide, and how survivors of loss can continue to heal with this knowledge. 

Remember the Dash | Dr. Frank Campbell | Salon H
Remember the Dash…Headstones often note the date of birth and date of death and between those dates is a dash that is intended to mark the life of that individual.  Clearly for so many the date of death is the focus, especially when it is sudden and traumatic. Remember the Dash is a workshop that encourages the life to not be erased or replaced by a dash. Participants will be encouraged to share life affirming stories of their loved ones to reclaim the life from the stigma of suicide.   

Suicides that affect the Lives of Faith Leaders: The Human Being being Human | Dr. Melinda Moore and Rev. Laura Biddle |​ Salon G
When a faith leader experiences suicide, their relationship with God,  Allah, Buddha, Yahweh, with a higher power or a Great Spirit, is affected and challenged. Suicide reaches into the human soul and forces us to ask real questions. As leaders of faith communities, we must wrestle with our own beliefs and doubts. Come join the conversation regarding the response of a few spiritual leaders who are survivors of suicides close-to-home. 

Postvention Toolkit, presented by the Defense Suicide Prevention Office | Dr. Adam Walsh | Salon F

Unspoken: Embracing your Story | Carol Carr and Renee Monczyznski | Salon E
Suicide is often a secret whispered among families or friends, never spoken about at full volume. A fellow survivor will share her story with a family suicide and how to embrace your story and develop true connections with others as you heal from your loss. Utilizing blackout poetry to create a storyboard of before, during and after your loss will allow participants to develop the whole story. For Young Adults, ages 18 to 25.

Sunday, 9 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.

Laugh Yoga | Amber James, Certified Laughter Yoga Leader | Salon D
Ever want to test the old saying, "Laughter is the best medicine?" Well, laughter after loss is possible and you don't even have to be in a good mood to try it. "Dr. Madan Kataria, a laughing guru, says that the practice of laughter can be particularly useful in grief; "laughter exercises coupled with deep breathing changes the physiology, thereby changing the mood state and helping a person to view the situation differently. It is a cathartic exercise which helps release pent up feelings and makes people emotionally balanced." This session will be introducing Laughter Yoga and will explore breathing and light stretching techniques to help us relax. No yoga pants required, but you may be asked to remove your shoes. 

Non-Denominational Remembrance Service | Rev. Laura Biddle | Palm Terrace
Join us for this time of quiet meditation, gentle remembering, and healing music. We will share loving memories and name the ones we love. Bring a memory-item to decorate the center altar: photos, trinkets, badges, ribbons, name tags. We will close the service with a circle of unending love.  

Mindfulness Walk​ | Hotel Lobby 

Writing Workshop | Lalaine Estella, MPH, CT | Courtroom Q 

Doll Making….the fa​bric of your life | Sharon Strouse | Artful Grief Art Studio, Suite 5001
Dolls and doll making are woven into the fabric of our lives from ancient times to modern times. They are as important to adults as they are to children and serve a variety of functions from passionate hobby to healing talisman.Create a doll of your choosing, one of personal reflection and symbolic of self or one which commemorates a lost love and explore your continuing bond. We will provide a soft pliable muslin doll form,  fabrics, lace, trim, yarn, buttons and a variety of materials, weave together fantasy and reality, harness your imagination and with it, all the healing potential and possibility it contains. ​ Feel free to bring personal fabrics and/ or personal articles of clothing, yours and your loved ones, ​ which will be cut and torn, deconstructed and reconstructed into a lasting, loving and tangible object.  Doll Making will be an ongoing experience within the Artful Grief Studio but this special session will be more about discussing the process and why it is so impactful.  

Breathing while Grieving | Donna Naslund ​ RN, 200 hour RYT, Certified Chair Yoga Instructor ​ | Courtroom R ​ ​
When we grieve, we feel it in our bodies. One of the first things to change and become compromised is our breathing. Our muscles become tense, our posture collapses, we are curled forward around our broken hearts and our breathing becomes tight, constricted, short, shallow and barely there. Breathing better can help us feel better. Breathing is a powerful resource we can harness to create a sense of well-being, and vitality in our bodies. This workshop will explore simple movements and breathing techniques to help you release tension, ease anxiety, boost physical energy, focus and clear the mind and create a sense of calmness and well-being in the mind, body and spirit.

Music Therapy for Grief | Tim McAlee, Music Therapist | Salon A ​

Music is an inherent part of our life and culture.  It can change our mood, give us hope, trigger strong memories, and mark important occasions.  ​Tim McAlee, ​Board-Certified Music Therapist and veteran of the U.S. Army, will present on music therapy as a treatment modality when dealing with trauma, grief and loss.  He will discuss strategies for using music as a positive outlet and support and share personal stories of how music has helped in coping with the loss of several members of his cohort.  This presentation will include interactive music making and audience participation through singing and playing rhythm with small percussion instruments (to be provided).

I Am Enough | Renee Monczynski, Jimmy Garcia and Carol Carr | Highland 3
In this interactive workshop, participants will learn skills to reduce self-criticism and shame, and rebuild confidence and self-worth. Inspired by finding their own strengths, participants will be empowered to continue this affirmation process in their daily lives, while producing a canvas that can travel with them to home, school or wherever life may lead them. For Young Adults ages 18 to 25.

Sunday, 1:30 p.m. - 3 p.m.

Continuing the Conversation with your grieving kids | Dr. Carla Stumpf-Patton and Diana Wright | Salon F

Opportunities to help grow with TAPS | Kellie Hazlett, Lalaine Estella and Sharon Paz | Courtroom R
This workshop will offer ways you can take the next step in your journey and help others through TAPS programs and events. Discussions will focus on TAPS Peer Mentor program; how to use writing to give your journey a voice; what it takes to host a TAPS event in your hometown; and other volunteer opportunities. You will come away with the building blocks to use your talents and experience to be an inspiration to others and be an active participant in the loving support of TAPS. 

How to Facilitate Posttraumatic Growth: Living a More Intentional Life | Dr. Melinda Moore | Highland 2
We know that grief and healing are natural processes, but is it possible to facilitate Posttraumatic Growth by living more intentionally? This session is full of examples and stories of how a bereaved individual can facilitate their own growth by engaging in activities, both big and small, and what those might look like for different people.

So you want to be a suicidologist? | Dr. Frank Campbell and TAPS Suicide Preventtion & Postvention Team | Salon E ​
Many loss survivors at some point in their journey feel led to become involved in the field of suicidology. This session will discuss the many different avenues that can take, how to know you’re “ready” and what your next steps could be.

Building a New Relationship with your Loved One | Rev. Laura Biddle | Highland 1
We believe that love doesn’t die and that relationships live beyond death. Using journals, poetry, letters, drawings, and compassionate conversations, we will explore ways to deepen your relationship with your loved one who has died by suicide. If there is a need to forgive or be forgiven, this time will help foster the healing process. If you are lonely and wondering how to move forward, this interactive session will offer a way to take the first step.

EPICS Career Guidance | Karen Anderson | Highland 3
For Young Adults ages 18 to 25.