Posted by Amy Presuhn on October 16, 2014 at 3:38 PM

Imagine you are ten years old. Imagine you are Ashlynne Haycock, the daughter of Sergeant First Class Jeffrey Haycock. Imagine you are ten-year-old Ashlynne Haycock, and you are told that your dad won’t be coming home. The family was, undeniably, devastated, but young Ashlynne knew then — as her father did — that her brightest years lay ahead.

When, during her senior year of college, Ashlynne’s mother died, the young survivor of two deceased parents found herself adrift in a sea of programs and paperwork. Bereaved family members are often unaware of the benefits available to them, and it can be difficult to locate the right source, with the right information.

Ashlynne learned this the hard way, and contacted Bonnie Carroll, a military widow and Founder of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), for help: “I told her there was no one stop shop to figure out education benefits for survivors. In typical Bonnie Carroll fashion, she told me to come up with a solution for the problem.”

And so that’s what she did.

Organized by TAPS with Carroll at the helm, and with the invaluable assistance of Haycock and fellow survivor Tabitha Bonilla, the Military Survivor Education Support Services Program was born.

New, expert support staff at TAPS will assist surviving military families one-on-one, and working partnerships with the Department of Veterans Affairs and Student Veterans of America are underway to better personalize higher education financial planning for military families of fallen service members. Program administrators are developing and implementing an online portal to assist in identifying private, state and federal benefits bereaved military families may be eligible for, as well as a printed quick series guide packed with resources.

“He made me learn all 50 states and capitals before I started kindergarten,” Ashlynne commented at the program’s launch event. When a serviceman like Sergeant First Class Haycock makes the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, his dream of his family’s education should never be forgotten.

About TAPS

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) is the national organization providing compassionate care for the families of America’s fallen military heroes and has offered support to more than 50,000 surviving family members of our fallen military and their caregivers since 1994. TAPS provides peer-based emotional support, grief and trauma resources, grief seminars and retreats for adults, Good Grief Camps for children, case work assistance, connections to community-based care, online and in-person support groups and a 24/7 resource and information helpline for all who have been affected by a death in the Armed Forces. Services are provided free of charge. For more information go to or call the toll-free TAPS resource and information helpline at 1.800.959.TAPS (8277).