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 is unlike many nonprofit organizations. Maybe one of a kind in that it’s mission is operated without federal funding and the bereavement support is advanced. Their services and support made a huge positive impact on my life, my children’s lives, their children and our community. Given from the heart.
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.
The only reason I'm giving 3 stars is for the few people who have been truly there for me at TAPS. I have dealt with rude women answering the phone when I have called. Workers pointing out that no matter what kind of non-profit they come up with , that it will never be anywhere as successful as Bonnie and TAPS. TAPS may have been started with Honorable intentions but , it has turned into a clique. There are events that are held that no one seems to know about until it's close to the date. If you're not one of the ones who has a degree , a blog , a vlog , a book , a counselor and such you're at the bottom of the totem pole.
It's a shame , I was Hoping that TAPS was going to be that one group that who truly cared for all , not just saying it and leaving it at that.
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
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!
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.
On March 15, 2011, my oldest son Petty Officer Joshua Lipstein died by suicide after a long battle with anxiety, depression, and opioid dependency. Without the support we received from TAPS I'm not sure that my family would have made it through that terribly tragic time. We will always love and miss him, but we have learned to live our lives with his memory living in our hearts. TAPS helped us find meaning and purpose as we searched for our new normal.
In July of 2001, I was coming home from a meeting about helping students succeed in the public school in which I worked. My husband had called to say there had been an accident. As I rounded the corner toward our home, I saw the military car in our driveway and knew that the unthinkable had happened. When I walked through the door the casualty officer told me that our son, Sgt Bryon Lane, had been killed in a Marine helicopter training accident. That was the beginning of my journey of grief. After the funeral as the casualty officers were leaving, they gave me a flyer about the non profit organization called Tragedy Assistance for Survivors. It took me a few days, but when I called, I spoke to a woman who just listened gently to my story and offered me support. She called often and invited me to go to a seminar for TAPS over the Memorial Day weekend. It was the best thing I ever did for myself. While there, I met more people who had lost a loved one serving our country and learned I am not alone. Since then I have kept in touch with many of those from across the country and they have become lifelong friends. I thank TAPS for helping me learn to live without my son while never forgetting him. TAPS is an amazing organization.
TAPS has provided a place where I can talk about my late husband Paul, run in memory of him, have my children attend good grief camps with other children who have lost a parent in the military, and share this journey with others.
I first learned about TAPS a couple of years after my husband was killed in Iraq. I was desperately lost and simply needed support from someone who might understand the complexity of my grief. I had no idea my phone call would lead me to years of friendship-building, self-acceptance, and the desire to give back in the same capacity.
Having become a new mommy and widow within a year's time, I knew I'd need some help on my journey to come. TAPS first provided me with the assurance that I was not alone and followed up shortly with a beautiful mentor who walked with me through so many trying times. They also encouraged me to participate in activities such as widow's retreats and national conferences. Although I felt like I was only going through the motions at times, I could feel myself becoming an integral part of something that was so much bigger than myself; an ideal by which my late husband lived his life. The continual support from my TAPS family not only allowed me to understand my PTSD, but has motivated me to use my story to help others.
In recent years, TAPS has given me the opportunity to turn my challenges in to amazing changes. The empowerment I feel because of this is immeasurable. They have helped me tap into my natural talents by using my voice to sing The National Anthem at different events; I have also had the opportunity to share the inner most parts of my heart on their blog and in the magazine. What's more, I have found many other interests that have become therapeutic outlets for me because of what TAPS has provided. Their encouragement and support has helped me to become a better person, mother, and friend.
Aside from helping me, TAPS has been a huge part of my daughter's life by giving her opportunities to ask questions and share stories about her daddy. TAPS truly understands the delicacy of a child who has lost a parent to combat and/or the effects of war. Somehow, they are able to translate this loss into an incredible opportunity to learn and grow in the best possible ways. My daughter is happy and well-adjusted, and finds a great deal of comfort in knowing that all of her "TAPS friends" understand exactly what it's like to live a life without dad. If not for TAPS, she might feel alone in her thoughts and neither of us would have the hope we have today!
We are both so grateful that TAPS exists. We've learned so much about grief and how we can become the best living legacies for our fallen heroes. TAPS is our family! What I love best is knowing that even on days I feel an emotional setback, TAPS normalizes my anxiety, reminds me of my strengths, and encourages me keep going.
Amy & Emma Dozier, Surviving wife and daughter of SFC Jonathan K. Dozier KIA 1/09/2008 Iraq
I lost my dad in the military in 1969, when I was just a baby--and long before TAPS came to be. I've been volunteering with TAPS since 2012 because I know how isolating and painful it was for me growing up without such an organization. Being able to reach out and assist not just Gold Star children like me, but to their families, and to battle buddies, and active duty military and other volunteers, has given my own loss meaning. I used to dread Memorial Day weekend--now I plan on volunteering with TAPS that weekend and I can't wait to see my TAPS family. I love TAPS!
TAPS has helped our family. It has helped me to know I am not alone. In very story, every meeting, every seminar, every getaway, every email with my mentee, every magazine I find hope. I have met so many wonderful people that through their grief help one another with love and compassion. My daughter is still "best friends" with a gal that she met on "their" first good grief camp. They were facetiming last night for literally hours.
Another daughter has decided her career goals because of the love and compassion she received as a 14 year old at her first TAPS good grief camp just a few weeks after her daddy's death. My son continued to follow his military dreams because of the mentors he had his first and second good grief camps. Do we love TAPS? yes! has it made a lasting impact on our lives? Absolutely!
I can’t express how much the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) has meant to me and my family as we navigate our way through this new life – new journey.
David and I were married for 16 years. He obtained the rank of Colonel one month before he died. As a US Army Reservist, my husband deployed several times after 9/11. His last deployment was to the ‘Green Zone’ or International Zone in Iraq. I remember this tour being ‘the tour that was never supposed to happen’ as he wasn’t supposed to deploy again – at least for the near term. However, 12 days after landing back in the US (relocating from Germany), we were notified of David’s imminent departure.
David returned from his tour complaining of headaches – mild ones – during the months leading up to his diagnosis. It was during a visit to the ER that David’s doctor suggested a CT Scan – just to ‘rule things out’. We were told that David had two suspicious looking masses in his brain. A biopsy done at Emory University hospital on October 13, 2010 confirmed that David had brain cancer. He died 11 months later.
David’s passion was for his Soldiers. He wanted them to understand the value of being financially prepared for unexpected situations and to also ensure a solid plan for the future. He handled all the finances in our household ensuring financial stability – all in line with our grand retirement plans.
It’s been four years since David’s death and much of that time has been spent dealing with multiple ‘unexpected’ events. At EACH ONE of these events, I can count on TAPS to provide me with the support that I need to get through. TAPS has not only been the support mechanism that I need – guiding me forward instilling a strength in me that I never thought I had – it’s provided a forum for my children to reach out to. They know that they’re not alone in this – and THAT is so important as they grow. They now reach out to others in their time of need.
I am very grateful for TAPS dedication to those who have lost one so dear… who took such a significant spot in our lives that now leaves such a void. For the past 4 years TAPS has provided my family with outstanding service, guidance, support – and most of all – access to its quality staff!
The lost of my Marine husband brought me and my 4 children to TAPS in 2008. We have grown and healed immensely with the help of seminars, counseling and multiple resources throughout the years. I don't know how our lives would have gone had it not been for TAPS
TAPS is a wonderful organization. They have helped thousands and thousands of families and support thousands of children of fallen military at GOOD Grief Camps. I cannot convey how wonderful the staff is at TAPS and the volunteers are immensely generous with their time and support to provide not just peer support to widows but ensure that any and all programs are absolutely wonderful. I know that my family will never be alone, never be left behind if something happens to me as a soldier serving my country. There is nothing like this wonderful organization. If you can support TAPS in any way please do so !!!!
I very recently retired a USAF Colonel and commander, and have a deep sense of respect regarding the phenomenal peer-based emotional support TAPS provides surviving families in the most unfortunate of human circumstances. Since the founding of TAPS in 1994, the organizational outreach to grieving families remains a hallmark in providing deep, meaningful assistance through difficult periods for the surviving families of US military members. TAPS provides critical efforts of support through their personalized outreach, to care for, assist, and provide technical assistance to those experiencing the deaths of loved ones. They provide the highest quality of support through many established and networked programs, and resources across our country, all without charge. Additionally, their network of counselors, programs, peer support, and casework assistance remains unparalleled. My appreciation is genuine of Bonnie Carroll and her tragedy assistance experts in making huge differences taking care of those who need it most. TAPS remains a success in genuinely helping others in very difficult times of military related deaths, especially with young children who need their help most. My best regards to all in the TAPS organization who provide this support to the families of AMERICA's fallen heroes.
As a senior military officer (recently retired) and an admirer of TAPS for more than a decade, I cannot adequately praise this remarkable organization and its people -- from founder Bonnie Carroll and her devoted staff to those essential and marvelous volunteers. I have referred families to them and TAPS has always come through. They help all according to need, providing equity, empathy, and compassion in what is likely the nation's most competent and effective survivor support system. Were I to die, TAPS is where I would want members of my family to turn to.
This organization is terribly cliquish. Certain surviving family members are given preferential treatment, that is, same people are invited to special events, meet VIP's etc. I do not see the focus on "Survivors Helping Survivors Heal" as much as staff members and their friends get to go to exotic locales or meet VIPs. And trust me I know a lot about this organization since I have been one of their survivor members since 2012. Take heed if you read this review and do not donate your time or money to this organization.
Dear Survivor, I am sorry that you have had an experience that has left you dissatisfied with TAPS. We encourage you to call TAPS at 800-959-8277 to discuss your concerns. Kindly, TAPS
Within days after I was notified by the US Navy of my sons death, KIA 9.22.2013; a package from TAPS arrived in the mail. I opened the package and a wealth of information was at my fingertips. From whom to call for assistance during my darkest hours of grief, to support groups, TAPS volunteeers and staff providing me what ever I needed help with;TAPS was there for me 24 hrs a day. I appreciate their calling to check on me to see how I was doing. I deeply thank TAPS for introducing me to other Gold Star Family members who understood what I was going thru. I am on a journey and am so blessed to have TAPS by my side.