Top Military and Caregiver Survivor Organizations Release Joint Report on Complications Faced by Caregiver and Suicide Survivors

Home Top Military and Caregiver Survivor Organizations Release Joint Report on Complications Faced by Caregiver and Suicide Survivors
Written by Doug Hampton

Easing the Transition to “Survivor” with Meaningful Connections and Effective Resources

ARLINGTON, Va., May 15, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — In response to the growing need to address the complicated grief from service-connected illness and drug and suicide loss, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), Elizabeth Dole Foundation (EDF), and American Red Cross Military and Veteran Caregiver Network (MVCN) formed the Caregiver to Survivor (C2S) Partnership. C2S efforts will deepen the understanding of these complex grief journeys and help fill the gap in knowledge of and support for illness- and suicide-loss survivors.

Our report will provide our community with a shared reference that enables us to respond more quickly and collaboratively to the complicated grief journey experienced by bereaved survivors,” said Bonnie Carroll, TAPS President and Founder. “Together, we can help ease their transition and deliver relevant support — especially peer-based emotional support — for our nation’s military and veteran illness- and suicide-loss survivors of all ages,” states Ms. Carroll.

Research on grief specific to illness- and suicide-loss survivors in the C2S Report confirm:

  • Multiple or changing roles are depleting.
  • Planning for and meeting legal and financial needs requires assistance.
  • Juggling ongoing caring roles is almost impossible.
  • Identifying and accessing resources and services is difficult before and after loss.
  • Accessing mental health services for all family members can be especially challenging.
  • Connections to peer support and a peer-support network are lifesaving.
  • Pre-bereavement and peer-support interventions are effective.

Based on these findings, the three C2S organizations — EDF and MVCN, known experts in caregiver support, and TAPS, the largest provider of peer-based emotional support for military and veteran survivors — make the following recommendations:

  • Increase access to relevant resources and services for the entire caregiving and suicide-survivor family before, during, and after the death.
  • Expand the availability of grief and bereavement support — especially peer support — before and after death to mitigate the profound, prolonged, and potentially permanent impact of loss for the entire caregiving and suicide-loss survivor family.
  • Broaden research to spur innovations in policy, programs, and practices to best serve military and veteran caregiving and suicide survivors of all ages.

The groundbreaking information in the C2S Report is a strong motivation and reference for EDF as it expands our research on the impact of caregiving and loss on America’s youngest hidden helpers to ensure they are fully supported when their caregiving journeys come to an end,” said Steve Schwab, EDF CEO.

Jointly, all C2S Partners pledge to enhance their process for the “warm referral” of caregiver and suicide-loss survivors among their organizations, stakeholders, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to ensure continuity of care before and after loss. Individually, C2S organizations commit to the following:


  • Collaborate with the VA to pilot a Gold Coat peer-volunteer program to best support veteran survivors
  • Offer peer-support activities and grief and bereavement training through the TAPS Institute for Hope and Healing®


  • Continue prioritizing research on caregiver-survivor needs and expand information to health care providers through its Academy for Inclusive Care
  • Create new financial resources for caregivers and facilitate discussions on advanced care planning

American Red Cross MVCN:

  • Host a new services and resources for caregivers anticipating loss and caregiver survivors on the Red Cross Hero Care Resources Directory
  • Increase live and archived Caregiver Education webinars and virtual communication

When a caregiver’s journey changes to a survivor’s journey due to their loved one’s passing, it is vital that immediate support is made available to them,” said Melissa Comeau, American Red Cross MVCN Director. “MVCN’s new Red Cross Hero Care Resources Directory platform…will help individuals, organizations, and agencies find and utilize more verified and relevant resources and services.”

The right resources and services at the right time can help prevent and mitigate the greatest challenges and worst consequences of the death of a military or veteran loved one, especially in children and youth. Equipped with this information, we can all better support their journey of loving, caring, losing, grieving, and living on.

For more information and resources, please visit our Caregiver to Survivor webpage or contact the TAPS 24/7 Helpline at 202-588-TAPS (8277).


TAPS is the leading national organization providing compassionate care and survivor support services for the families of America’s fallen military heroes. Since 1994, TAPS has offered support to all those grieving the death of a military loved one through peer-based emotional support, connections with grief and trauma resources, grief seminars and retreats for adults, Good Grief Camps for children, casework assistance, connections to community-based care, online and in-person support groups, and the 24/7 National Military Survivor Helpline, all at no cost to surviving families. For more information, please visit or call 202-588-TAPS (8277).


Elizabeth Dole Foundation is the preeminent organization empowering, supporting, and honoring our nation’s 5.5 million military caregivers – the spouses, parents, family members, and friends — who care for America’s wounded, ill, or injured service members and veterans at home. Founded by Senator Elizabeth Dole in 2012, the Foundation adopts a comprehensive approach in its support and advocacy, working with leaders in the public, private, nonprofit, and faith communities to recognize military caregivers’ service and promote their well-being. The Foundation’s Hidden Heroes Campaign brings vital attention to the untold stories of military caregivers and provides a network for military caregivers to connect with their peers and access carefully vetted resources. Visit for more information.


The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emrergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. The American Red Cross, Military and Veteran Caregiver Network (MVCN) offers peer-based support and services to connect those providing care to service members and veterans living with wounds, illnesses, injuries and/or aging. The mission of the MVCN is to provide our nation’s military and veteran caregivers of all eras with peer support to reduce isolation and increase connection, engagement, knowledge, skills, and hope. Please visit for more information.

SOURCE American Red Cross

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