Vet Centers Offer Grief Counseling for Military Survivors

Bereavement counseling is assistance and support for people with emotional stress following the death of a loved one. It can include a broad range of transition services, including outreach, counseling, and referral services.

The Department of Veterans Affairs offers bereavement counseling to parents, siblings, spouses, and children of Armed Forces personnel who died in service to our country, including family members of Reservists and National Guard service members who died while serving on federally activated duty.

The VA’s bereavement counseling is provided by the VA Vet Center program, which operates a system of 232 community-based counseling centers. These Vet Centers are staffed by multi-disciplinary teams of dedicated providers, many of whom are combat veterans themselves. There is no cost for VA bereavement counseling.

To find out more, visit the Vet Centers website, call your local Vet Center, or contact the Readjustment Counseling Service at 202.273.9116. The staff will assist family members with contacting their local Vet Center. Often counseling is available in the family’s hometown or where the family member feels more comfortable.

Ami Neiberger-Miller

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Ami Neiberger-Miller, APR, Public Affairs Office - work with TAPS includes working with the news media, designing strategic outreach campaigns, advising surviving families on media relations, speaking to organizations about TAPS, conducting online outreach to raise awareness with core audiences, writing press releases and other materials, and forging partnerships that help build support for TAPS and surviving families. Because she is a surviving family member, Ami brings a unique perspective to her role with TAPS. Ami’s 22-year-old brother, U.S. Army Specialist Christopher Neiberger, was killed in August 2007 by a roadside bomb while serving with the U.S. Army in Baghdad, Iraq. She managed an avalanche of media attention focused on her grieving family and tries to use her personal experience and professional expertise to help others. Ami has emerged as a leading advocate for surviving families through her work with TAPS and the media. She authored a guide to managing the news media for military families dealing with traumatic situations. She has written for PRSA’s Tactics, been interviewed for the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and spoken at Columbia University on media coverage and trauma survivors. She has been interviewed by CNN, CBS Sunday Morning, the Pentagon Channel, the Voice of America, and many other outlets. She also appears in the HBO documentary “Section 60: Arlington National Cemetery.” As an active member of the TAPS Sibling Support Network, Ami says she finds strength in connecting with others who have experienced the similar loss of a loved one serving in the military. She devoted more than 12 years of her career to helping organizations improve how they communicate and work with the media. She has worked with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, the Nature Conservancy, the National 4-H Council, the University of Florida, the National Veterans Legal Services Program, and Sister Cities International. She founded Steppingstone LLC in 2003 and works as a consultant. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Florida and is accredited in public relations. To learn more about Ami and her work with TAPS, go to: www.taps.org. Ami appeared on the radio show Healing the Grieving Heart to discuss “Loss & the Military.” To hear her interview with Dr. Gloria and Dr. Heidi, click on the following link: www.voiceamericapd.com/health/010157/horsley121108.mp3

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