As the summer brings floods, fires, strange violent storms called derecho’s, and searing heat, it is also seemingly bringing Caregiver problems with few paths for resolution. This concerns us and our fellow support teams since we collaborate to keep the levels of family caregiver anxiety, hopelessness, depression, and futility low.
When we all emphasize and participate in the measured steps needed: first follow the chain of command, elevate to supervisory levels, respectfully further escalate as needed – and scant progress is made, it simply underscores the family’s frustration. They question: Do we really matter? Those who support caregivers, and those who are caregivers are having an especially hard time this summer. Mind you, no one is complaining at the difficult nature of this work, only at the fact that so many in positions of responsibility are choosing to delay help at best, or commit clinical retaliation at worst.
In general terms, it appears there is at least passive neglect of many of the reasonably raised issues. Below are a few comments made by Caregivers recently after they respectfully and with multiple sources of support received no responses or change in care:
- “Why should we call and write to ___’s office again, it won’t make any difference. We’ve been ignored since August of 2011”.
- “We’ve been waiting and waiting for our ratings; isn’t 16 months long enough?”
- “I’ve been viciously sexually harassed by my husband’s psychologist (in front of him), reported it to the highest levels, and there has been no update for almost a month”.
- “My husband is supposed to have PTSD counseling every two weeks, but there are no appointments available for two months”.
- “It’s no surprise to me that caregivers attempt suicide”.
- “Once we asked for the supervisor’s help, all calls have gone to voicemail without a callback…”
- “After being connected to our state’s VSO, they were shocked as they shadowed me on a single day at VA, but didn’t do anything we hadn’t already done. We’re moving and hope it’s better at our new VA”.
- “I’m too tired to keep fighting for his care…”"
- I can’t do this anymore…”
- “I can’t face 40 more years of this…”
All of this underscores the continuing needs of Caregivers, veteran, and service families. There really must be a better way, and “doing nothing” is not a solution. Times are hard, and a returned call or email is not asking too much of our institutions. Failure is not an option for our families!
Keep the faith, and we will too.
Linda Kreter & the VeteranCaregiver Team