TAPS Hosts More Than 2,000 Surviving Family Members for Weekend of Remembrance, Hope and Healing

23rd National Military Survivor Seminar Featured Five Days of Workshops, Grief Resources and Activities to Help Bereaved Families Cope with Loss


ARLINGTON, Va. – The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) hosted more than 2,000 surviving family members of America’s fallen military heroes over Memorial Day Weekend as part of its 23rd Annual National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp.

“For our TAPS family, every day is Memorial Day,” said Bonnie Carroll, TAPS President and Founder and 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient. “This is our family reunion; we are united in our desire to honor our loved ones by remembering the lives they lived.”

The event kicked off on Thursday, May 25, and culminated at Arlington National Cemetery with the official ceremonies on Memorial Day, May 29. The program, which included a Good Grief Camp for children and informative workshops for adults focused on coping with traumatic grief, provided many opportunities for surviving family members to remember the life and legacy of their fallen loved ones, including those killed in action, those who died of illness and suicide and those who died as a result of accidents or other circumstances.

This year’s program featured our TAPS family tree, with photographs of participants’ fallen heroes lining the corridor. Family members wrote messages on papers shaped like leaves, took photos and read the messages left by others.

“You are their living legacy,” Carroll told attendees, some of whom were at their first TAPS Memorial Day weekend. “We honor your hero and we are here for you always. You are our nation’s legacy of service and sacrifice.”

In addition to the participants, almost a thousand volunteers from the local area were on hand to support the families. This included several hundred active-duty, National Guard, Reserve members and veterans who were trained by TAPS to serve as “military mentors” and were paired one-on-one with a child grieving the death of her hero in the TAPS Good Grief Camp.

The 23rd TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar & Good Grief Camp is made possible with the generous support of partners including the New York Life Foundation; USAA; Lockheed Martin Corporation; Walmart; BAE Systems; HSBC; Booz Allen Hamilton; Giant Food; Mission BBQ; American Greetings, Inc.; Ashton Tiffany; GEICO; Hasbro, Inc.; National Basketball Association; Northrop Grumman Corp.; Fort Myer Thrift Shop; Carmine’s; United Concordia; Coca Cola; Grunt Style and K-DEER. To volunteer for TAPS or donate to our programs, visit taps.org.

Special appreciation is extended to the Fisher House Foundation Hero Miles Program, which made it possible for many military survivors to join us for the weekend.  For more information on how to donate your frequent flier miles, go to fisherhouse.org/programs/hero-miles/. 

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) is the national organization providing compassionate care for the families of America’s fallen military heroes and has offered support to more than 70,000 surviving family members of our fallen military and their caregivers since 1994. TAPS provides peer-based emotional support, grief and trauma resources, grief seminars and retreats for adults, Good Grief Camps for children, case work assistance, connections to community-based care, online and in-person support groups and a 24/7 resource and information helpline for all who have been affected by a death in the Armed Forces. Services are provided free of charge. For more information go to www.taps.org or call the toll-free TAPS resource and information helpline at 1.800.959.TAPS (8277).