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11/11: FCA is Grateful to Military Veterans and Family Caregivers of Veterans—Today and Always

November 11, 2015

In honor of Veteran’s Day we salute the men and women who have served our nation so ably, at home and afar. For those who return home with injuries, both visible and invisible, which require care, we honor and recognize you; wives, girlfriends, husbands, partners, parents, children, relatives and friends who find yourselves caregiving.

Just last week, in our class at the local VA Medical Center, Pam (a real caregiver, but we changed her name), a spouse of a Veteran cried out, “I never planned to be a caregiver. It just wasn’t on my radar!” After meeting her husband in high school, they fell in love, married and began their family. They were young, strong and enjoying life. Ten years later, her husband lives with combat related injuries including TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), back and knee problems and hearing loss. Pam was attending caregiver self-care classes anxious to find some sense of balance in her life, and was so appreciative to finally meet other caregivers who were walking her same path.

FCA’s training team, comprised of advanced level social workers, is part of the National Veteran Caregiver Training Program developed for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs by Easter Seals and partner agencies. The series of classes provides essential support to caregivers of veterans on the topics of: Managing Stress, Problem Solving & Effective Communication, Taking Care of Yourself, and Utilizing Technology. Our goal is to help caregivers, veterans and their family to find resiliency and peace in their life together. Contact the VA Caregiver Support Coordinator in your community for these classes and other valuable caregiver resources being offered by the VA.

In addition to the caregiver self-care classes, the Veterans Administration recognizes the work of family caregivers who care for those who have “borne the battle” from all eras. Several supports and services are available on their informative website for caregiver consultation, education and training, home and community based health care for veterans, respite care, PTSD and TBI information and more. Under the “Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010,” additional VA services are available to seriously injured post-9/11 veterans and their family caregivers through the program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.

A subsequent and seminal study, Hidden Heroes: America’s Military Caregivers, is helping to define the depth of need to reach out and provide a foundation for military caregivers. Here we learned that of the estimated 16.9 million US family caregivers, 4.4 million are pre/9-11 military family caregivers and 1.1 million are post/9-11 military family caregivers. 

In response to this study and with strong advocacy by military and community family support organizations, there is an ever growing array of military and veteran caregiver support options and programs. Two (2) upcoming online education events co-sponsored by FCA are:

  1. Más allá del desconsuelo: Cuando la tristeza se convierte en depresión
    Acompáñenos el 12 de noviembre a las 2 p.m. EST/1:00 CT/11 a.m. PST con Julio C. Rojas, MD, UCSF. This is the session we delivered last year in English “Beyond the blues: When sadness becomes depression.” The archived session is available here.
    To register, click on the following link: www.easterseals.com/explore-resources/for-caregivers/military-caregiving-webinar.html
  2. Stay tuned for our next webinar in December, this time in English, on coping with holiday expectations for veteran’s, their family and friends. Thanks to Easter Seals, their partners and the Elizabeth Dole Foundation for making this series available.

Today and all year long, we appreciate Pam and all military and veteran caregivers. We especially thank those who we have met in in-person or online classes. From American Samoa and Guam in the pacific, throughout the US mainland, to Puerto Rico in the Caribbean, we thank you for your tenacity, ingenuity and wonderful spirit. We appreciate and are grateful for all that you do.

The following are a few more resources for other topics that often arise in our caregiver of veteran self-care classes:

— Leah Eskenazi, MSW, Director of Operations and Planning, Family Caregiver Alliance

FCA’s Leah Eskenazi (front row right) and Christina Irving, LCSW, (back row, fourth from the right) at the National Veteran Caregiver Training Program in Samoa, March 2015.

Photo: Courtesy U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs




View all 30 Days of Caregiving blogs (to date) at caregiver.org/blog.