As we welcome Memorial Day today, and after the final parade or television special has faded, I’m hoping that we can take time more frequently as a group to consider those who paid the final and absolute sacrifice. They will always have our respect and our compassion because they hold precious memories, while our group goes on.
Did you watch, participate, or read of Memorial Day events this weekend? I was struck once again at the genuine attempts to illustrate to Americans what our brave troops experience, with footage of reasonably graphic field operating rooms, the challenges met when in the recovery and rehabilitation phases, and in trying to explain what living with TBI and PTSD can mean to a family. There has been some progress made in exposing the general public to what military families experience, especially in the case of the wounded, ill, or injured.
Yet, there were many references to America’s families throughout these local and national programs and newspapers, but often the camera or photo was of the veteran and a child, and very, very rarely, the veteran and their family or caregiver. Below are vets and caregivers at WRAMC; surely we all recognize that a picture is worth a thousand words?
Until the Caregiver is understood as the heartbeat of the family, and often the most critical link in the continuum of care, we still have much work to do. As long as the government feels that the intention to provide the programs they feel are helpful is enough, we have more work to do. And, if the belief is that full-blown programs are already available and effective when they are not fulfilling many of the family needs, we have more work to do. Finally, if programs are rolled out months and even years after the time they were needed, many more families will move far too slowly to successful outcomes. Or not…
On this Memorial Day, we hope that the Gold Star Families are feeling supported, loved, and affirmed. Our hearts go out to you. It is our fervent hope that bureaucracy will give way to the needs and the dreams of the Blue Star Families. Since wars are not going to end, as a group, we need to focus on logical, field-proven, integrated two-way communication, and peer-mentored programs to guide our newer Wounded Warriors through the every-evolving care system. We need to firmly acknowledge the role of the family Caregiver as vital to America’s interests. Caregivers and veterans, on this Memorial Day, please know how honored we at VCG are to be supporting YOU.