Six years ago my brother, Richard, a CPL in the Marines, died of brain cancer. Nothing prepared me for the death of my 29 year-old big brother. During that first month as our family let the reality of his loss sink in, TAPS was there with a phone call letting us know that we weren't alone. TAPS sent us a caring resource kit, filled with heartfelt thoughts and information about the organization which would become our second family. Since then my family has benefited from the seminars and the retreats we have attended and met many fellow survivors whom we call family. I know that every day there is a family who loses a loved one who is serving our country and that is why I donate to TAPS. I want to help TAPS help these families the way it helped mine.
TAPS became a lifeline for my family after my sister’s fiancé was killed in Iraq. Not being from a military family, we were at a loss on how to help her through her grief journey. Through TAPS, she began to meet other survivors going through the same loss and grief and who able to embrace and support her in a way we could not. TAPS assists all who has lost a loved one serving in the Armed Forces, regardless of cause of death or relationship to the fallen hero. Our family was welcomed at TAPS events and treated with compassion and love.
TAPS is an amazing organization! In my experience, working with children that are grieving over the loss of a loved one that was serving in the US Armed Forces, TAPS does a great job of providing support and putting these families in touch with others going through a similar loss. The power of putting a grieving child in a room with other children dealing with a similar loss, and having that group go through grief work exercises, cannot be overstated. It truly is the magic of TAPS.... and that's why TAPS is such an amazing organization!!
TAPS is such a wonderful organization. They have given me experiences I never thought I'd ever experience in my life, like the summer I went to the Grand Tetons in Wyoming! It is unfortunate that we all have met due to our tragic losses, however, I couldn't imagine my life without these amazing people I have met on my grief journey. I was widowed at 24 and it gave me great comfort in knowing I was not alone, and no matter what, I was always accepted instantly at any event that I went to with TAPS.
Julian Hard Cider and I have not only enjoyed each and every experience of our fundraising partnership with TAPS, but also look forward to making an even greater positive impact for the survivors with Diana and her team in 2018.
Thank you so much for including us in your family.
President / Founder
Julian Hard Cider
I honest don't know who gets more out of it, me or the kiddos. The safe place TAPS creates for these children, with people like them , is beyond parallel. Knowing that TAPS is there for my family,should anything ever happen to me, makes it a little easier to do my job for this country everyday.
TAPS helps military families who have had a family member die. My husband and I met a widow of one serviceman while we were at the Grand Canyon. TAPS had paid for her to go to a retreat in AZ, so she headed to the Grand Canyon while she was in the area. She was part of our jeep tour. At one point she went and sat on a ledge and just stayed there for about a 1/2 hour. No one in our group cared that we were 'off schedule', as we all knew she was reconnecting with her husband. She told us at the time that this was the closest she had felt to her husband since he died. Upon my return home, I looked into TAPS. I am very happy to know that all monetary donations go to the families and their needs. Not only do I support the troops, through TAPS I can also support their loved ones, if/when needed.
TAPS has changed my life for the better more than I can say! I found TAPS after nearly 40 years of dealing with the loss of my father, LTJG Burr Johnson III. I was only 2 years old when he was killed and back then childhood grief wasn’t addressed. I was diagnosed with life long PTSD while in my 30s. My first event was Nationals in 2016. I went to volunteer and left with so much more. The peer based support, the programs, the very heart of this program are beautiful and have opened me up to a level of healing and happiness I didn’t know existed. My closest friends are TAPS people. I have since become a Peer Mentor, I was part of the TAPS Cape Cod Ragnar team, I returned to Nationals in 2017 and will attend every year from now on. My brother who was an infant when our dad was killed, will be attending his first event this year and is now facing his own grief. He saw how TAPS helped me and decided to check it out. We as military survivors NEED this organization. I am a better and happier person because of it.
First off..I LOVE this organization..and am new to it. My dad was shot and killed in the Navy when I was barely two years old and too young to form any concrete memories of him. I have a wonderful family who raised me well. Despite their efforts I spent my life in terror, always looking over my shoulder and fearing death in any form. I didn't trust people in general. When my mom would leave, even when I was just a tiny kid I would pray and wait anxiously for her return. About three years ago I was diagnosed with PTSD and was told it has been recurring since I was two years old..go figure. Despite the lack of memories I have always felt a connection with my father and a longing to know more about him. I thought I was strange because of it. Also, despite my fears of looking strange I decided to write a book about how it was growing up the way I did. It was just a couple years into the process that I discovered TAPS randomly through a new friend on Facebook. We connected over mutual loss (her husband was killed when her daughter was 13 months old and her daughter has always felt a powerful closeness to him). During our conversation she told me about the TAPS program and how she and her daughter have benefited so much from it.
I can't tell you how much that kind of support would have changed my life for the better had it been around when I a kid and grieving! I was actually able to talk to Bonnie Carroll who listened quietly to my story-to the point where I was afraid she might think I was completely off the mark and even a little crazy. Instead she validated what I had to say and said the feelings of terror and abandonment are common with surviving kids. She was kind and gracious and made me even more excited about getting involved with this amazing organization.
I've only been in contact with TAPS staff for about eight months, and I first spoke with Bonnie almost a year ago. I haven't met any of them in person but every single person I've interacted with has been amazing. I feel like I have a tight knit group of friends already and I haven't even met any face to face. My big vacation this year is out to DC for the National Seminar and I can't wait!
As someone who has felt alone, anxious and terrified almost my entire life, I can't begin to express how life changing this program is... I'm so excited to connect with peers next month and help give those kids validation so they won't have to live their lives in crippling fear. This is a program I plan to be involved with and support for the rest of my life!
I am so thankful for TAPS being there not only for me but for my family as well. They did not give up on us when we had given up hope. Knowing that your not the only one is extremely comforting especially after a loss. THANK YOU TAPS for all that you do.
TAPS reached out to me after my son was killed in Afghanistan. The resources they provide are extensive and of the highest quality. The organization reaches out and tailors its assistance to all groups affected by the death of a service member - parents, spouses, siblings, and children. Each group is distinct and has differing needs and issues. It is easy to find a group tailored to your individual needs. I have attended a seminar, a retreat, and participate in online chats and discussions.
TAPS was/is the only group providing Men's only resources. The Men's Retreat I attended was superb. Sorry Ladies, but when you are present in a meeting, you do all the talking and steer the discussion into topics not of interest to Men. The Men only environment is necessary for our healing. Gold Star Men are hurting too.
I have made lasting friendships with other Gold Star Men through TAPS. I know I do not have to walk my grief journey alone. I have brothers to walk with me. TAPS is an invaluable resource for all survivors. Please support it if you can. Please use it if you need to.
In 2009 my fiance Josh Rath was KIA in Afghanistan. There I was without him, the love of my life, my future, my happiness, in a blink the entirety of my future, gone. As I tried to comprehend this loss, I was reminded that I was not married yet and therefore disenfranchised. Until TAPS. TAPS found me and called me letting me know my loss was significant, that I had mattered to this man, and that the pain I was suffering was valid. They were an organization that supported fiancées. Through their peer mentor program, seminars, and retreats, I found a new family - one that understood, one that walked with me, and one that helped me find my way. This organization gave me hope, and I support TAPS by volunteering and bringing awareness of the good that blossoms from their care.
Our family was devastated when my husband, Sgt. Richard Stumpf, a 24 year old Gulf War Veteran and active duty Drill Instructor, died by suicide on October 31, 1994 at MCRD Parris Island, SC. To make things more tragic, we were expecting our first child within a couple of days. On the morning of his funeral, I was rushed to the hospital where I I gave birth to our son. The picture I chose to share is of our only "family portrait" taken during my pregnancy. When Rich died, we all felt alone, unsure and unable to comprehended how to proceed, and socially isolated due to how suicides were handled with active duty military during that era. Before the days of google, smart phones, social media, and technology, I had no idea where to go, but I knew I needed support. I knew I needed to connect to people like me who could understand; I knew I needed the support from my military families; I knew I couldn't do this alone. I knew what I needed , but just couldn't find it at the time. After years of searching, my path finally crossed with TAPS and I knew I was at home- with my people and fellow families of the fallen. TAPS is everything that I knew I needed back in 1994 and offers comprehensive services, resources, and programs to all families members, of all causes of death and is one of the leaders in the field of military suicide prevention. Families today do not have to go through this alone and have a place to honor the life which was lived, where they can "Remember The Love, Celebrate The Life, and Share The Journey ".
After my son died, leaving a wife and three children, and my having been widowed just 3 months before my son's death, I was totally adrift. I had no idea where I belonged. I had no idea who could understand. Both my husband and son were Marines, very proud Marines. My daughter-in-law told me about TAPS and I registered, having no idea what to expect, but whatever I thought it might be, I underestimated them 5000%. I attended my first seminar 7 months after my son's death and the second this past St. Patrick's Day. I was raised in a fabulous, warm, loving family. Never in my life did I expect to walk into a conference full of strangers and feel as if I had found my home. The tools, the skills, the compassion, opportunities and love that has been shown to me is really beyond comprehension. But they know the secret, because they also all have walked the walk. This is what makes TAPS different. They understand what we're dealing with from the inside out and welcome us and our feelings with only love and never a second of judgment. For one weekend at a seminar, I feel as if I'm in heaven as well, and I never dreamed that would be possible after my dear losses. God bless Bonnie Carroll and her vision, her passion and her commitment. She and her staff are the balm for a pain I didn't think could be eased. Because of TAPS, I have new friends and am happier and healthier than I ever dreamed of. I can say no more but to leave you with this, which sums up what TAPS is able to elicit from all of my survivor friends.....
“What happens when people open their hearts?
They get better.”
— Haruki Murakami
TAPS is an integral part of my grief journey. Zero dollars comes from federal funding and the hope, connection and healing I’ve experienced is unlike anything else in the world. The impact of TAPS touches the lives of many people in the healthiest way possible.
My Navy Pilot husband died May 11, 2015. TAPS was there for me, immediately by my side, and has been there with me ever since. Just knowing I can call an 800 number after the company leaves, or its a Holiday, if I am alone with my thoughts, that I can reach out to someone who can Empathize is extremely comforting. Their programs for survivors tailored to their military loved one's Branch of service is particularly special. To be able to honor your loved one lost, but remember their life and service is very meaningful that you could not understand unless you've been there. Everyone at TAPS has been there. Empathy is a very specific language.
A dear friend, and Casualty Assistance Officer, first told me of TAPS shortly after my husband was killed in 2004. Everything was so fresh, so raw, I just wasn't ready to reach out. TAPS continued to be a voice in the grief community that I ran with, and eventually, in 2014, we were in a location that my daughter and I were able to participate in the National Seminar and Good Grief Camp. After 10 years, we found our safe place. The staff and volunteers at TAPS always goes above and beyond to make sure that their Survivors are treated like guests. Radical hospitality is a phrase that comes to mind when I think of my peers there. My daughter has the opportunity, for 4 days, to be with other kids who GET it. She's not weird because she never met her dad. Nobody judges her when she doesn't have any "memories" to share of him in group activities. Other children don't question her credibility when she says that her father is dead. Her mentors have set remarkable examples of strength, courage, and selflessness. It is a beautiful partnership that Bonnie has cultivated with the different services and provides not only support for our children, but a leadership development opportunity for young service members like no other. Thank you TAPS for all you have provided for our family!
TAPS has been absolutely amazing since my husband passed away. I can't say enough about this amazing organization. They have reached out to me, helped me financially, emotionally. They are incredible. Thank you Bonnie and thank you TAPS for all that you do for my daughter and I.
My son Spc Jason Cooper died by suicide shortly after returning home from Iraq in 2005. Feeling deeply broken hearted and lost and also feeling that no one would understand my grief journey, I turned to TAPS. At TAPS, I have found support that has has given me hope and healing and a family that will always be with me. Bonnie Carroll has created an extraordinary support system for our surviving military families and I feel very blessed to be a part of that family.
While serving as a Staff Sergeant in the Army I was asked to volunteer for TAPS. I was called upon to mentor a young boy whose father died while deployed to Iraq. Over the course of a weekend the boy and I bonded during one of the regional Good Grief Camps held by TAPS. Going into the event I never realized the impact it would have on me. Having lost a Soldier under my watch shortly before the event I was in need of grief support myself. The child I was mentoring and I had an amazing transformation to a new normal as we spent time grieving together and finding our new normal. TAPS transforms lives significantly for the better; and, provides the resources for our Gold Star families who have lost their hero to come together in a compassionate and safe environment to share their journey.
In 2012 I was four years out from losing my Father to PTSD from his service in the Navy. I was struggling with finding counseling and support that understood my unique loss. By chance someone introduced me to TAPS. Who then became to this day the Best Family I never wanted. The love, care, healing I am still recieving from TAPS has lead to amazing growth in my life!
When my husband CTRSN Jason Springer (US Navy) went missing from his ship the USS Kinkaid on March 5, 1997, the waiting was excruciating, though it paled in comparison to the intensity of the shock and grief that gripped me when they called off the search for him 24 hours later. Three days into my journey, agonizing over unanswered questions and crying constantly, I cried out to God and begged him to take it from me - I needed to breathe. Peace and quiet fell over the room and I quit crying for the first time. In a moment of shocked calm, I looked at my desk and saw a TAPS card. Without thinking, I picked up my phone and called the number. I could not have imagined that this phone call would lead to a great friendship which would ultimately ground me, giving me hope that I could survive the intense pain and remain standing. Nothing ever hurt this deeply and it felt never-ending, but Bonnie Carroll came alongside me and showed me in her deeply personal way that surviving was possible. She said Jason's name and didn't run from my tears. Together we told his story and over time I have continued to share him with others who have in turn shared with me their own stories. In doing this, Jason has remained as vibrant part of my life. In this amazing organization our journey with those we love does not end, it just takes a different shape. This is the beauty of TAPS, that together we remember those we love and allow them to remain partnered with us in a deeply meaningful way as we continue to share what made them real. Jason was an intense soul with a strong moral compass and a strong wit, which was at times self-deprecating. He had competitive spirit and you knew when you beat him that he made you work for it. Questions were always hanging from his lips - he was a deep philosophical thinker for 19 years-old. He was surprising, deep, and intensely romantic. Debate did not intimidate him, yet he was never disagreeable. He was an amazing and complex person and I have no doubt he would have grown me. How could I ever forget that he loved me with all his heart? This love was his greatest gift to me. How could I let that die too? TAPS is a place where I can say these things, let his life and death have ongoing meaning, and continue to grow in ways that would make him as proud of me as I am of him.