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Being a Caregiver for Our Wounded Heroes

Do you know what it is like to be a caregiver for a seriously injured or sick person? a family member? Caring for my wonderful wife during her treatments for breast cancer five years ago became my mission! This fall she cared for me after several surgeries to remove malignant tumors from my foot and leg. With that experience and background I recognized the impact our wounded heroes' caregivers. Recently the VA provided some great information about new programs to assist our wounded and their caregivers.

The week of 14 February is set aside to recognize our wounded heroes. Do you know how many have been wounded since 9/11/2001 in Iraq and Afghanistan? More than 41,000 have been physically wounded and that does not include the thousands suffering with mental injuries such as PTSD. These men and women are being cared for by many family members who have put their own lives on hold to care for our heroes! A new law passed by congress and signed by the president recognizes the financial impact on caregivers for our seriously wounded or ill personnel (“…Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010") If you know a disabled veteran or caregiver please tell them about it! Here is a link to a great article from the VA on the legislation:

http://www.militaryavenue.com/Article/VA+Provides+Benefits+to+Veterans+Caregivers+-36294.aspx


Some of the new support for caregivers includes a caregiver coordinator at each VA Medical Center, a toll free line for caregivers (1-855-260-3274), a website for caregivers training (VA Caregiver) and education on “how to’s” for providing care, support groups, a monthly stipend, travel expenses and medical coverage for the caregiver. It appears that congress got it right and thank you to our veterans’ supporters such as the VFW, DAV and American Legion who pushed for this legislation.

Do you know the caregiver of a wounded hero? How can you help? Sometimes a caregiver needs a respite from the stress of caring for someone so ill or injured (many of the injuries involve loss of limbs that affect mobility). I remember after surgery and during chemotherapy with a very sick wife how it felt to take a walk with someone at the house. I could breathe fresh air, listen to the birds and did not have to worry about providing care. It helped to have another family member sit with her during chemo sessions on occasion as well. Can you give the caregiver an afternoon off? Stop in for coffee or tea, bring a meal and spend time with a hero while their caregiver goes out? I know it would help their mental health. How about offering to help them get to church on Sunday morning, a trip to a park or an outing to a support group? A friendly face and willing arms to assist can make a big difference for someone adjusting after the transition to a “new” normal! A new normal is what our doctor described following the affects of cancer and it is no different for someone suffering from the affects of a bullet or IED! The new normal includes many challenges and you can help!

While doing some research for this blog I found another great resource for wounded warrior care maintained by DoDLive. http://warriorcare.dodlive.mil/category/wounded-warriors/ It is a great series of blogs from leadership at the Pentagon, links to critical information and new programs that will make being a caregiver easier!

I do want to thank the VA press release information that we post on MilitaryAvenue.com for providing data that we can share with you (you can find these articles in our Reading Room at http://www.militaryavenue.com/ReadingRoom.aspx. Go to General and then VA for current information from the VA.

I also want to thank the Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander in Chief, Richard L Eubanks for his great editorial in the February 2011 Command Post which inspired me to take on this blog (http://www.vfw.org/)

Have a great Valentines and do not forget our Wounded Heroes this week!



Photo Credit: U.S. Airmen, medical personnel from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, transfer a wounded Service member to a bus that will move the Service member to another medical facility in the area Oct. 20, 2010. Ramstein averages at least two medical flights per day from deployed locations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Wayne Clark/Released)

Photo Credit: Sgt. Michael Anthony Mynard talks with his nurse-case manager 1st Lt. Laurie Voss and platoon leader Sgt. 1st Class Eliseo Torres at the Warrior Clinic. Photo Credit: Kayla Overton

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