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On Nov. 12, 1992, my world changed forever. On that day my husband Brig. Gen. Tom Carroll was one of eight soldiers who perished aboard an Army C-12 in my home state of Alaska. He was my hero, and he continues to be my inspiration.
In the difficult months that followed Tom’s death, I discovered the power of peer support. By connecting with the other widows whose husbands died that day, I found we were now part of a sisterhood of sorrow, and were able to provide support to each other. After all, we now spoke the language of loss and we understood each other in a profoundly personal way.
We now spoke the language of loss and we understood each other in a profoundly personal way.
I searched for an organization just for those grieving a military death, only to find there was no nationwide network focused on providing comfort and care to grieving military surviving families. In 1994, I founded an organization to do exactly that—and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors was born. TAPS provides critical peer-based emotional support for all those grieving the loss of a loved one in the military—mothers supporting other mothers, brothers bonding with brothers, children connecting to learn that they are not alone in their loss, and more.
When I meet a new family, I ask them about their loved one—not the death story, but the life story. How they lived, what inspired them, why they served, and what their legacy will be. This Memorial Day, and every day, we remember and honor those who have served our country and who have paid the ultimate price for freedom.
Bonnie Carroll is president and founder of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015. Since 1994, TAPS has provided compassionate care for the families of America’s fallen military heroes and has offered support to more than 70,000 surviving family members and their caregivers. They currently hear from an average of 14 new survivors each and every day. For more information, visit www.taps.org.