Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Thoughts


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.



  1. Linda, I agree with every word you wrote. We rarely hear of Caregivers mentioned anywhere. We all know the hard job Caregivers do on a daily basis. How do we get this across to the American public? The suicides are unacceptable. The caregivers being ignored is unacceptable. The number of homeless Vets, or Vets who turn to drugs or alcohol because they cannot wait for treatment, is unacceptable.
    You are right when you say a picture is worth a thousand words. Maybe more pictures of Caregivers with their care receivers? What else can we do? The local media? Bumper stickers? Hot air balloons over DC?
    I see a huge problem with dealing with the VA and that is that we have no leverage. We have no way to force them to accept their responsibilities, although we, as caregivers, shoulder more responsibility that we should be forced to do.
    We are for sure dealing with the "Unchecked Incompetence" mention in the report on Clay Hunt.

  2. Caregivers are so stressed for time, that even sending in a picture to post, or comment beyond here and Facebook is challenging. I do think that social media and those who share their stories are very important -- but that is a personal choice. In the meantime, we will continue to quietly, without fanfare, to connect families to those who can best help them.

    So much goes on here that is logical and practical, and perhaps that is what works best? We have seen so many times that a glowing press release sets expectations that are then dashed. Better to have done the job than to talk about it, in our opinion?

  3. Let me start off by saying hello and thank you to all of the caregivers out their from all of us Disabled Veterans... even though at times it feels that you are not appreciated let me say that we really do appreciate everything that you do for us.
    I joined this site in support of my caregiver Vivienne Edwards, this is an amazing women who did not only saved my life twice during my initial illness, but has stood by me during all the hospital stays, fought with the VA, taken care of my animals and been both friend and family when my family turned their backs on me. (why visit when I wouldn't know they where there since I was going to die, and anyhow it would be an expensive trip!)
    I have seen Vivienne fight with the VA for the past 3 years only to watch them beat us both down, her to the point of total despair and me close to the point of suicide. The VA has lied to our Congressman to defend the behavior of an employee and there is nothing that we can do about it. We have made yet another complaint and have not even gotten the respect of an acknowledgement that there is a problem.
    Things have gotten so bad that I am going to be leaving my home, my friends, my animals and my caregiver to go stay in an RV trailer at a friends house to get the proper treatment needed at the Temple, Texas VA that I cannot get here at the Oregon VA.
    I know that many of you are frustrate, please let me apologize for the Veterans that have not or can not say thank you, because we really do thank you... it is some times very difficult to forget that we are not only ones that are affected.
    If I could help my fellow disabled Veteran and their wonderful caregivers by going before the press than let me do just that, if by putting my issues and my name out there than I give this site permission to do just that. If things at the VA do not change and change soon there are going to be a lot more Clay Hunt's, I promise you this.
    Dana Raye Foussat