Militarily Speaking Ep. 30 Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors with Bonnie Carroll

“Militarily Speaking” is a podcast produced by Armed Forces Bank that is dedicated to the military lifestyle and all the things that makes military community who they are.

We — with guests like you — will help the military community not only navigate their finances but also military life. We chat about both good and bad financial practices and provide some insight along the way. We’ll share strategies to help people get ahead, discuss military benefits that members should take advantage of, and more – all working towards the goal of helping people become more financially independent.

On the show, we’ll also preview and talk about how to take advantage of military specific services, such as loans and mortgages, and help members prepare for important milestones such as PCS moves and the transition to civilian life. Finally, at the end of every episode, we have a bit of fun with our Military Minute. That guessing-game segment features military history, hobbies, a bit of pop culture. Correct guesses by listeners could result in a donation to charity of individual’s choice.

Welcome to the "Militarily Speaking" podcast with Tom McLean and Jodi Vickery.

In this episode of “Militarily Speaking,” Tom, Jodi, and guest Major Bonnie Carroll, TAPS President and Founder, discuss how TAPS provides support to those grieving the loss of a loved one in the military. They also explore the organizations impactful programs, events, and advocacy efforts.

“Militarily Speaking” is a podcast produced by Armed Forces Bank that is dedicated to the military lifestyle and all the things that makes military community who they are.

Ep. 30 – Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors with Bonnie Carroll

Jodi introduces Bonnie, including her military history, before founding Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) in 1994.

  • In addition to founding TAPS, Bonnie has held government appointments such as the White House liaison, the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Jodi also lists many Board of Directors that Bonnie has sat on throughout the years.
  • Bonnie also coauthored Healing Your Grieving Heart After a Military Death, and has appeared on many national programs speaking about military loss.
  • She has also received many award including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Distinguished Civilian Humanitarian Award from the Department of Defense, any many more.
  • Bonnie says that after the unexpected death of her husband in an Army plane crash, she redefined who she was and what her next chapter was going to be about.

TAPS Mission and Programs

Jodi then asks Bonnie to describe the mission of TAPS and what the organization is all about.

  • Bonnie explains the story of why and how the organization began, after she realized there was no organization to support those who had lost a loved one in the military.
  • She realized that between her own military experience and background working with nonprofit organizations, she needed to stop up and create the organization.
  • Bonnie continues detailing how TAPS has played a major role in connecting care for more veterans who developed cancers and pulmonary issues due to their time in the service.
  • She says that in addition to continuing support groups for those grieving, TAPS is also pushing for the Love Lives On Act that allows a military widow to remarry before age 55 without losing benefits.

After discussing the artists on the Love Lives On album, Tom asks Bonnie to share some other programs and highlights of the work TAPS has accomplished over the years.

  • Bonnie notes how TAPS steps into the space that isn’t covered by the government, with their number one core service being a national network of per based emotional support.
  • She explains how grief is a normal human response to love, and the loss of a loved one, which is why they added nearly 9000 new surviving family members last year.
  • Last year, she says they had over 1000 events, including community -based care groups called TAPS Togethers, regional survivor seminars, empowerment camps, retreats, and outdoor programs.
  • Bonnie adds that in addition to all of those pieces, they also assist with casework to expand the support available to families, emergency financial assistance, and education services.
  • Since the beginning of the year, they have fielded almost 500 education requests to help surviving families understand their benefits, securing $116.8 million for surviving children.

How to Support TAPS

Tom then asks Bonnie how others can connect with the organization to either participate or support an event.

  • Bonnie begins by noting their very broad assortment of events, meeting people exactly where they are.
  • She adds that their National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp is coming up over Memorial Day weekend.
  • She continues by explaining that everything they do is through donation dollars, and people can learn about how far those donation dollars go at 

Military Minute

Jodi introduces the Military Minute segment of the show, beginning by closing out last episode’s Military Minute.

  • Last episode’s Military Minute: What was the name of the one president who served as an enlisted man in the military and did not go on to become an officer?
  • Answer: James Buchanan
  • This week’s Military Minute question: The Swiss Constitution prohibits Swiss citizens from participating in foreign military service, except for the military unit responsible for guarding what area in Europe?
  • Watch for Facebook and Instagram posts about this episode.
  • Answer with the correct answer and you plus a charity of your choice can each win $50.

Tom closes the episode by asking listeners to go to and subscribe to the show, as well as leave a rating and comment on your favorite podcast platform such as Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Join us to hear how to better navigate your finances, military life, and the crossroads of the two.