Bonnie Carroll, Nicole Lloyd, Robert Pycior

Sean Adams/WCBS 880

Stories From Main Street: TAPS Brings Support To Families Of Fallen Military Members

May 20, 2018 - 6:16 pm

FORKED RIVER, N.J. (WCBS 880) -- As Memorial Day approaches, thoughts turn to those who sacrificed their lives for our country.

This week’s edition of “Stories from Main Street” takes a look at an organization that supports the families of those fallen members of the military.

When WCBS 880’s Sean Adams was growing up, his father – a Korean War veteran – always said, “On Memorial Day, think of the men and women in uniform, but also, think of their families.”

Bonnie Carroll took her personal loss and turned it into something positive.

“Back in the early ’90s, my husband was killed in an Army aviation accident that had eight soldiers on board. At that time, there was no national organization for all those grieving the death of a military loved one,” she said. “So in 1994, TAPS was launched, and today, we are that partner with the military to provide comfort, care, resources, and support, to all those grieving the death of a military loved one.”

Over the last quarter century, TAPS – the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors – has grown.

“TAPS has over 75,000 surviving family members who are part of our network of support in care. Last year alone, almost 6,000 newly-bereaved families came to us, grieving the loss of their military hero,” Carroll said.

Robert Pycior, 24, of New Jersey, came to TAPS when he was just a little boy. His father, Joseph Pycior, was a Navy man and was killed in the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

“These big events in our lives – high school graduation, prom, weddings, the birth of children – I don’t have any yet – but those big moments that, you know, should be a full family affair, and there’s a noticeable empty seat at the table,” Pycior said.

TAPS offers support, casework assistance, survivor seminars, and a 24/7 helpline.

Nicole Lloyd lost her mother.

“I never had an opportunity to grieve my mother. A lot of people didn’t really understand, and I always felt that I had to be strong for my dad and my little sister. So I came to TAPS. I was 15 years old, and I cried like I was 6 years old,” she said.

Having grown up in the TAPS family, the grown children are giving back and mentoring other children.

Last year, nearly 6,000 families reached out for help.

“Now I’m in the position where I can be a mentor directly to those children, and say: ‘I did experience that loss, I was 8, and now I’m 24. You know, what can I offer you?’” Pycior said.