MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- When tragedy strikes and a service member makes the ultimate sacrifice where does the entire family look for support?
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a non-profit group, provides the answer with a long-term-support network for the families of those who have died in service to America.
TAPS founder, Bonnie Carroll, who lost her husband, Brig. Gen. Tom Carroll, in the crash of an Army National Guard plane in Alaska in 1992, spoke to Key Volunteer Network Members at the Ball Center here Jan. 11.
“Our group wants to organize events here [Camp Lejeune] to promote peer based discussion between families who need assistance in the event of a death of a service member,” said Carroll.
The pairing of families is based on the specific family situation, said Carroll.
With more than 250 active peer mentors TAPS has someone who has been through a similar situation of the family, added Carroll.
“In one case, we had the fiancé of a Marine whose twin brother was killed in action. We immediately paired that family with a mentor, who had lost a twin in combat,” said Carroll.
The support is not specific only to peer mentoring TAPS also provides care packages, organizes survivor meetings, a free quarterly magazine, a 24 hour hotline and case workers, who are all prior service casualty officers, explained Carroll.
Hitting close to home on Lejeune was Master Sgt. James Woodland, Weapons Company operations chief for 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, drove 12 of his Marines to the 2006 12th Annual National Military Survivor Seminar in Washington, D.C. over the Memorial Day weekend.
With workshops and supportive discussions the four-day-long seminar is designed to help families heal and cope with life after loss and allow a chance to share with others facing similar losses, according to the TAPS Web site.
When the families go into the seminar the children are brought to the Good Grief Camp where they spend time working on their coping skills, how to deal with grief and learn how America honors its veterans, said Carroll.
Marines from Lejeune were paired up with the children in the camp to provide mentorship and help, said Woodland.
“It’s a good experience for the young Marines. Sometimes Marines here can forget how special they really are and this event makes them realize through the time spent with the children,” said Woodland.
Spring of this year TAPS is planning a ‘Coping With Loss’ event to provide Lejeune families with workshops and support groups during the current deployment, said Woodland.
“Everything we do is from the prospective of the family and we are here for them when they need us,” concluded Carroll.
For more information about TAPS visit their Web site at TAPS.org or call 800-959-TAPS.