A Window into TAPS – Discovering a Group that Supports Survivors of Fallen Soldiers

One of the best parts about our work is that it gives us the chance to learn every single day. We learn how to use new technology, how to connect with people and, when we’re lucky, we get to discover how our clients impact the world.

Recently, we had a chance to learn about the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) when SAIC, a Fortune 500 company located in Virginia, approached us to tell the group’s story. Founded in 1994, TAPS has connected over 40,000 surviving family members, caregivers and casualty officers with crucial resources to help them heal and find meaning in their lives again. We didn’t think twice about taking on the project—we were honored to be asked to convey how TAPS supports “ANYONE who has suffered the loss of a military loved one.”

But how would we do that? We figured that in order to showcase TAPS and connect with their audience, we needed a window into their world. Here are three key areas we explored to uncover a “day in the life” of TAPS:

Meeting the Founder

Bonnie Carroll started TAPS twenty years ago, following the death of her husband, Brigadier General Tom Carroll, in an Army C-12 plane crash in 1992. We had a unique opportunity to meet Bonnie, hear her story and convey her passion for helping survivors.

In many situations, the original founder of an organization no longer provides support on a daily basis. Therefore, it can be a challenge to hear firsthand what sparked the creation of the organization. In this case, however, Bonnie remains an integral part to TAPS. She continues to attend seminars and retreats, and she communicates with survivors every day. Bonnie opened up and gave us a foundation to the story.

Meeting Individuals in Different Program Areas

In order to tell a story about the daily operations at TAPS, we needed to meet individuals in a variety of program areas. So before we rolled camera, we scheduled pre-production meetings to learn about the inner-workings of TAPS and the care that they provide (which often starts immediately following a tragedy).

During production, we interviewed employees working at the 24/7 Helpline, Support Groups, Suicide Survivor Communications, Case Work department, and more. Learning about these various support areas helped us tell a more comprehensive story for the audience. It enabled us to showcase the people of TAPS and show how they operate and—most importantly—why they work for TAPS. It exposed the audience firsthand to the importance of the TAPS mission, not only for survivors, but for the people within the organization.

Experiencing different locations

Since TAPS reaches survivors in all parts of our country, we wanted to convey that their mission and values carried through all of the organization’s offices across the country. To accomplish this, we flew out to Seattle, WA to meet employees from the Adult Survivor Program.

While on the west coast, we not only conducted interviews, but we also got out of the office to see how the team was coordinating retreats. These retreats are a powerful way to bring survivors together and help them bond through shared experiences. By seeing them in person, we were able to witness TAPS employees inspiring survivors and understand the impact the organization has on survivors all across our country.

Ultimately, the chance to uncover unique stories like this one drives us each and every day. Collaborating with SAIC and serving TAPS wasn’t just an amazing experience—which it was—it was also an incredible learning experience for our team. Check out the final video below.

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