When Bonnie Carroll lost her husband, Brigadier General Tom Carroll, in a military plane crash in 1992, she started a movement to care for other families touched by tragedy.
She founded the Arlington, Va.-based Tragedy Assistance Program For Survivors, or TAPS. While all branches of the military offer help to surviving family members, the mission of TAPS is to continue that support, allowing family members to honor their loved ones and learn how to cope with their loss.
“TAPS now cares for 80,000 surviving families and is welcoming newly bereaved surviving military families each and every day. So we do events all over the country connecting families with others who understand their loss and be there to support them,” Carroll said in an interview from Virginia.
This weekend in Dayton, TAPS has scheduled its Regional Military Survivor Seminar for adults. Topics range from coping with loss and trauma to suicide prevention.
“We have families from across not only Ohio but around the entire region who are traveling into Dayton to be together with others who have suffered similar losses to learn coping strategies, honor their heroes and come together as one family,” Carroll said.
Other sessions are open to children and teens in what the organization calls its “Good Grief Camp.” Carroll said those sessions are tailored to their specific needs.
“Children learn that they are part of an American legacy of service and sacrifice. They will be connected one-on-one with a military mentor. Then, in their groups, they’ll come to understand that they are not alone in their loss,” Carroll said.
For the kids, Carroll said, it is important to remember “there are other kids just like them who are grieving a dad or brother or a mom or sister or anyone in their family who has been so important to them.”
The TAPS event is free and runs Friday through Sunday afternoon at the University of Dayton River Campus with numerous events each day.