While millennials currently provide care for a variety of different demographics and relations, one of the most unsupported segments of this generation of caregivers are today’s military and veteran caregivers.
Like most wars, the conclusion of the longest war in American history has left many military families to pick-up the pieces of a life ravaged by selfless service for an ungrateful nation. The Global War on Terror resulted in the lowest casualty numbers, but highest number of days in combat and subsequent wounds of war.
For far too many military families, the war isn’t over – it just came home – and the task of caring for the wounded falls on our veteran’s loved ones.
Recent report by the RAND Group indicated the number of millennials providing care for disabled veterans is on a sharp rise, with an over 1.1 million post 9/11 caregivers currently providing care for wounded warriors.
This generation of military and veteran caregivers differs greatly from those of previous conflicts, as the majority of post-9/11 caregivers are under the age of 30, have pursued higher education, and care for a veteran with chronic condition with no “recovery” outlook, such as Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
As a military spouse turned veteran caregiver, I’ve spent the past five years of my life trying to “pick up the pieces” of post-war life. While my peer’s lives were spent focused on building a career and family, mine quickly shifted into a full-time medical care coordinator and suicide prevention specialist. Caring for wounded warriors presents many unique challenges to OIF/OEF era caregivers, but feeling as though it’s something you have to go at alone can make everything a lot more complicated…
Here are nine resources I’ve found helpful on my family’s postwar journey:
Elizabeth Dole Foundation
The Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s Hidden Heroes program provides a wealth of resources for today’s veteran spouse – support communities, online directories, and much needed advocacy for America’s “hidden” heroes – veteran caregivers. Join today!
MilVet Peer Support
The Military and Veteran Caregiver Network offers a secure community where military and veteran caregivers can connect, share and support one another. I found this resources incredibly helpful throughout my family’s military to civilian transition.
Operation Family Caregiver
A program of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) , Operation Family Caregiver supports caregivers – both family and professional – through advocacy, education, research and service. Reach out today to see what services are available to you.
Hope for the Warriors
While primarily known for their veteran assistance programs, Hope for the Warriors does currently offer veteran caregiver support in the form on online communities and annual wellness workshops.
Love Our Vets
Founded by a Vietnam veteran’s wife, Welby O’Brien, Love Our Vets offers a variety of online and print materials for today’s veteran spouse. Additionally, Welby assists with support group creation through her organization and maintains a very supportive Facebook community.
Serving the military and veteran community since World War Two, the Easter Seals organization offers a variety of educational opportunities for today’s veteran caregivers. From webinars to online training to respite care, the Easter Seals know what it means to “care”.
Established in 1979, Vet Centers have been providing free (and confidential) counseling and support services to combat veterans and their families. Your area Vet Center is a great place to connect with trained professionals and other caregivers – click here to find a Vet Center near you.
VA Caregiver Program
The VA health system recognizes the effects war can have on veteran families, and provides a temporary support program – the VA Caregiver Program – for qualifying spouses. Contact your region’s Caregiver Coordinator to see if you are eligible.
Veteran Spouse Bloggers
While there’s a variety of must-read bloggers on today’s web, here are a few of my favorite veteran caregiver blog feeds: