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Empowering Our Veterans

Help Exists for Survivors Grieving a Military Loss

Photos: Courtesy of Paul Schomburg and Michelle Shockey

Mourning the death of a military member can be difficult, but resources exist to help survivors navigate the process.

Mourning a military member can be a confusing time. Everything from finding emotional support to navigating survivor benefits can be complicated for loved ones left behind. When we honor those who wear the uniform, we must remember that those who love them serve alongside them. Fortunately, resources exist to offer just this kind of assistance.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), for example, has a Survivor’s Quick Start Guide. The guide walks survivors through next steps, including information on burial and memorial benefits. The handbook includes instructions on finding which other benefits survivors qualify for, as well as how to apply. The guide also highlights reputable counseling services for those who want them.

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) is a non-profit organization that provides resources and comfort to those mourning the death of a member of the armed forces. The TAPS National Military Survivor Helpline at 800-959-TAPS (8277) is always available for survivors who are in emotional crisis, need to connect with TAPS resources, or just want a reminder they are part of a loving, supportive family. Everyone mourning a member of the military has a place at TAPS, no matter their relationship to their loved one or the circumstances of the death.

The organization also takes pride in its Peer Mentor Program, which pairs newer survivors with trained survivors who are at least 18 months beyond their own loss. A peer mentor serves as a friendly companion who truly understands the grief journey. TAPS facilitates additional ways for peers to gather, including national and regional seminars, retreats and expeditions, care groups close to home, group attendance at sporting events, and an active online community. 

While TAPS is for everyone, there are many other organizations dedicated to specific survivor communities, such as American Gold Star Mothers and The Society of Military Widows.

No one has to go through this alone. 

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