What a remarkable conference run by the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes! The 6th annual Road to Recovery Conference was held in Orlando FL earlier this month, and for five days, nearly 100 Wounded Warrior families were provided one-on-one support, superb motivational speakers, and many presentations and exhibits about resources, care, and empowerment.
VeteranCaregiver was included in the speaking roster and just as we find on this website, many caregivers are unaware of the large number of resources, how to find peers to share their experiences with, and in short -- how much Caregiving and family participation can help in the recovery process. Both Dave Roever and Dana Bowman spoke of their personal recovery and renaissance after serious trauma, and heroes were found throughout the week. Hats off to Donny, BJ, Gary, Mike, Doug, Nadia, Donna, Steve, Patrick and many others for coordinating and tying together all of the public elements of the conference. And grateful thanks for the Coalition sponsors for strongly supporting Caregivers in their program.
Pat Rowe Kerr was superb in sharing knowledge of how to learn of benefits and the variance among states, and our Caregiver and Benefits table was in constant motion. It was also gratifying to be able to talk to Caregivers who had resigned themselves to a particular life rhythm, but who now saw hope and peer support available to them. As we often say, resources and websites, social networks and helplines are good – but it is the people who care that matter the most.
The week started with a performance by Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band, and the energy stayed high for the next four days. A warmer, more receptive evening could not be imagined, and you’ll see pictures on the home page of VCG. Our Jill was even treated to a late night songfest with the band as they relaxed and did karaoke! J On a more serious note, the speeches and presentations, along with the smaller breakout sessions were very helpful in addressing TBI/PTSD, Intimacy, Benefits, Mental Health Counseling and Assessments, adaptive vehicles, a robust Job Fair, and opportunities for families to be very, very comfortable among those whose lives were very similar. As we said in our presentation: “What is a successful reintegration? It is coming as close as possible to the life that you led before injury.” This conference was one more step toward that goal, and the experiences so varied and rich that I cannot do them justice in a short blog entry.
Please stay abreast of these organizations so that you’re aware of the next conference in December of 2011. They are truly committed to supporting both veteran families and especially the Caregivers, and we were very gratified to know that they will allocate double the time for our presentation next year. Benefits alone feels like drinking from a fire hose, and learning of a resource intended just for Caregivers was new to most everyone in the conference.
Please spread the word to those you know who would benefit from the conference and VCG, and keep the questions and peer support coming. We are much stronger together – so speak up, let the VSO’s and VA know what you need, and keep supporting one another.
Happy New Year!