Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Awareness is Key!

Greetings, friends,
        We send you a rallying call today:  keep sharing the vital role of Caregivers in the Continuum of Care!
        We never use those words glibly:  Continuum of Care.  Caregivers know it is by their actions and commitment that compassionate care supports our brave injured, ill, or wounded troops.  We know that you are the essential backbone of that care, and that your crucial role is often overlooked.
        Recently, more serious media attention has been given to warriors, veterans, and their Caregivers.  After the September 27th NY Times article on Veteran Caregiving, the CBS News  evening broadcast included a piece on Warrior Caregiving on October 7th (above photo, video to follow).  On Saturday, Pamela Eggleston of Blue Star Families and I participated in a panel discussion regarding women veterans and service family needs, including the value of Caregivers in recovery (below).  Very tough topics such as MST (military sexual trauma or rape/assault), equity in benefits for Guard/Reserve, and the evolving VA medical system to address women's issues were discussed, and Caregiving needs resonated with the attendees.
        We are spending significant time talking with DoD and VA leadership about proactive assistance and timely follow-through.  There is unfortunate bureaucracy in managing chronic pain, depression, invisible injuries (PTS and TBI), family health issues, and comprehensive care plans.  Suicide prevention will always be a deep concern.  As you are aware, under the "feel good" stories are unresolved darker stories that may follow if we do not keep assertively sharing service family challenges and casting light into the dimmer corners.  

        In short, we appreciate you and your commitment.  Maya Angelou said this:  “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”  Tell your stories and shine the Light !


PS:  Even our foreign counterparts are requesting briefings about the role of Caregiving in reintegration after injury.  Let your voices be heard!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Peer Networks & Suicide Prevention

Greetings, friends,
          Yesterday I had the opportunity to talk to an influential group about the value of peer networks for suicide prevention.  It's readily apparent that the integrity of any support program is demonstrated with building trust in every interaction. It was a relief to share your thoughts (provided to me over time) and perceptions of the official tools and processes in place.  My hope is that there was greater understanding following the meeting.
         It's sometimes possible to feel alienated from leadership because of well-meaning gatekeepers.  Provided the opportunity to share directly with leadership was refreshing -- and daunting.  We are not clinicians, but we DO care and support.  And, you've proven time and time again, that helping others helps you.  I know it does for me. We now have more tools in place, and also an agreement with the Veterans Crisis Line to provide a "warm transfer" should you wish help in placing that call on your own. We're with you!
        Regarding my blog post of last week about a caregiver outreach piece, the piece has been delayed and I will have it for you next week.  Once I receive a copy, you will have it first thereafter!
       Make it a good week, and When In Doubt, Reach Out!


Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Hi friends,
      This posting is very brief, but I wanted to highlight a quality that we have seen exemplified on VeteranCaregiver over and over again: Courage.

  • Courage is the integrity to continue your caregiving mission though it often seems no one cares or notices.
  • Courage means putting one foot in front of the other even when you question whether you have the strength.
  • Courage is picking up the phone to leave yet another message, though you're unsure it will be acknowledged or returned.
  • Courage is pressing past the bureaucracy or pettiness of perceived power.
  • Courage is researching, questioning, seeking the best possible care for your veteran or warrior.
  • Courage is fighting through the brain fog to think and reason.
  • Courage is reaching out and asking for help. For support.  For solace.
  • Courage is knowing that you and your veteran matter -- and that others know your heart.      

We are honored to be among Caregivers, Veterans, and Wounded Warriors who exemplify Courage.

      Hold tight to your Courage, because on Friday, you will have a voice through one of our Caregivers on a national scale.  We think you'll be very proud of your fellow Caregiver, and the opportunity to be heard. The veil of invisibility will lift, and your cause will be known.

      Stay tuned, and blessings to the men and women of Courage!