TAPS Marks 25 Years of Caring for the Families of Our Nation’s Fallen Heroes
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - October 14, 2019
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), the leading national nonprofit organization caring for the families of our nation’s fallen military heroes, marks its 25th anniversary on Oct. 17, 2019. Since 1994, the organization has provided compassionate care and critical support services to more than 90,000 surviving family members whose loved ones selflessly served our country and died.
The origin of TAPS dates back to Nov. 12, 1992, when an Army C-12 plane crashed in Alaska, killing Brig. Gen. Tom Carroll and seven other soldiers onboard. The tragedy left Bonnie Carroll, an Air National Guard officer and former White House appointee, a heartbroken young widow.
In the days and months following her loss, Bonnie searched for an organization that understood her husband’s service and sacrifice and could support her through her grief. She found her greatest source of support not in a formal group, but in the company of other widows and families who had lost loved ones in the crash. They could truly understand her pain and help her find hope and healing in the days ahead.
On Oct. 17, 1994, Bonnie formally launched the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) to provide comfort and care to all those grieving the death of a military loved one. What began as an informal care group of grieving widows has evolved into the leading organization serving bereaved military families nationwide.
Over 25 years, TAPS has worked closely with military casualty officers to extend support for all who are grieving a deceased military member, regardless of the survivor’s relationship to the deceased or the service member’s cause of death. As new conflicts have emerged and millions of Americans have answered the call to serve, TAPS has expanded its capacity to heal the hearts and meet the needs of all who are grieving, with critical support services available to families forever.
Peer support, also known as companioning, is the basis of all TAPS programs. Across the country, thousands of TAPS Peer Mentors—adults at least 18 months beyond their own loss who have been trained in peer support—form lifesaving connections with those whose loss is more recent.
The annual TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp, first held in 1995, has expanded from a one-room program into a multi-day event with thousands of surviving family members coming together in the nation’s capital each Memorial Day.
The TAPS National Military Survivor Helpline, answered continuously since 1994, now receives over 20,000 calls each year, with trained peer professionals available 24/7 to support those in emotional crisis or meet critical needs.
TAPS Casework Assistance, which serves as a frontline resource for bereaved military families, has helped surviving family members navigate a complex bureaucracy to access their benefits and has provided millions of dollars in critical emergency financial assistance.
While core services have remained constant, TAPS continues to develop new programs and services to respond to emerging needs within the military survivor population.
In 2009, the TAPS Suicide Prevention & Postvention program was instituted to address the growing issue of suicide among service members and veterans of the post-9/11 era. To date, the program has cared for more than 13,500 suicide loss survivors using a postvention model of support which TAPS proactively shares within military and veteran communities and with civilian mental health professionals.
While suicide is the leading cause of death bringing bereaved military families to TAPS, it is closely followed by illness. TAPS is currently developing a program to specifically address the needs of families grieving the death of a service member to illness, including illnesses potentially related to exposure to burn pits and other known toxins.
In its 25th year, TAPS is prepared to meet the needs of the military families who will seek its support in the future, whether their loved one is lost to combat, suicide, illness, training, accidents or other causes. TAPS will be there for these families, just as it has been for all the families the organization has cared for thus far.
TAPS honors the selfless sacrifice of our nation’s fallen heroes and stands strong in its commitment to caring for the loved ones they left behind.
The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) is the leading national organization providing compassionate care and survivor support services for the families of America’s fallen military heroes. Since 1994, TAPS has offered support to more than 90,000 survivors of fallen military in the form of peer-based emotional support, grief and trauma resources, grief seminars and retreats for adults, Good Grief Camps for children, casework 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).