Shortly after a plane crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, the nonprofit Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors issued a plea to volunteers, urging them to help the families of service members killed in the attack.
Dozens of volunteers responded to the call, traveling to Washington at their own expense to help families through a difficult time.
Since then, demand for the organization’s counseling and support services for military families has been growing rapidly, with two wars and an increasing suicide rate among service members.
TAPS, as the nonprofit is known, has 42 employees who work to connect military families with people who have also faced the death of beloved service members. Last year, the volunteers who work with TAPS contributed 48,000 hours to helping people who are grieving.
The charity operates a telephone hotline families can call at any time of day or night and helps with paperwork. It also holds camps for children who have lost parents to war and seminars for grieving adults.
“We can bring families together to offer comfort, support, healing, and resources, as only those who have walked this journey can do,” says Bonnie Carroll, founder and president of the organization, which she started in 1994.
Ms. Carroll, herself, is a survivor. Her husband, Brig. Gen. Tom Carroll, was killed in a plane crash in 1992.
The organization, which receives no federal aid but works closely with the Defense Department and Department of Veterans Affairs, received a $6.6-million grant for operating support and children’s camps from the California Community Foundation’s Iraq Afghanistan Deployment Impact Fund.
“Over the next five to ten years we see the program growing, become stronger, providing enhanced services, and really filling a void that is appropriately met by peer professionals,” Ms. Carroll said.
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