Monday, September 24, 2012

Warrior Regatta & Veteran Golf Event - Days to Remember!


There are thousands of events nationwide that are raising awareness of the lives of our returning warriors, veterans, and their families.  There’s something very special about being outdoors, being treated “normally”, and enjoying the camaraderie of your peers that does a heart (and mind!) good.  Here are a few words about two events close to our hearts.

At the recent Wounded Warrior Regatta in Annapolis, Boeing sponsored a (surprisingly blustery!) day on the Bay in specially rigged sailboats designed for various disabilities.  The US Naval Academy Sailing Team coached the participants and many activities were planned for the entire group, including special activities for Caregivers, children, and friends. We were proud to provide time and awards to the group. This event was attended by elite Navy leadership which added accessibility to sharing warrior issues -- indeed a bonus for warrior families. Those that participated learned that sailing is both a physical joy and a mental game, very competitive, and you just plain feel good after a day on the water! 

On Friday, Blue Star Families held their First Annual Golf Tournament, and another fantastic fall day lent itself to a group of over 40 veterans.  As a partner with Blue Star Families, VeteranCaregiver volunteered time and gift awards to the event. BSF Leadership is very aware of the importance of family and highlighted their many programs (Books for Bases, Blue Star Museums, and more) to again raise awareness of the continuing value and contributions of veterans as they reside in communities across the nation.  As always, a host of volunteers is needed to attend to the many details, and this event was a real joy to all participants!

If you’d like to share your local event with us, please send me an email at  What works best for you and your vet?  Would you like to do events together as vet/caregiver, or separately?  Inquiring minds…  Enjoy your week!

Linda & the VeteranCaregiver Team

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Inconsistent Caregiver Program Causes Frustration and Invisible Wounds are Still Invisible

Invisible wounds have been talked about many times, but why does it seem as though the struggles of those with them are falling on deaf ears?  My husband is a 100% P&T disabled veteran through the VA who also receives SMC (special monthly compensation) due to his wounds.  While most of his are invisible, he does have a few things that are visible though not enough to actually get any attention or concern.  While overall our VA experiences have been pretty decent, we recently have run into a huge issue. 

About a year ago we moved across the country in hopes of my husband receiving better medical care and being back in a familiar place, the area that he grew up in.  At first, everything was going very well.  It seemed like we had a supportive care team and all that jazz.  Recently, however, it seems as though no one wants to read the records from our previous state, and they just don't seem to care at all what former doctors with the same degree's have said.  Not only do I find this incredibly unprofessional, but it's insulting as well to those therapists and doctor's that have previously worked with us. 

Doctor's with text book knowledge  though they may try, if they don't have personal experience or are at least willing to listen to your personal caregiving experience, with some of these conditions  they are only going to see things from one perspective.  It is frustrating attempting to be a successful advocate, when you can't get the care team to understand all that you do.  While making lists of what you do daily may be helpful, it still can be difficult to get your point across. 

Our recent issues specifically stem from the national caregiver program.  While I think the intention of this program is a positive one, the implementation of it is not the greatest.  There seem to be huge inconsistencies from state to state, and the interpretation of the program is left up to each local VA system, as I have yet to hear of it being done the same anywhere. I am at least somewhat happy to know that the folks in DC who run this program are at least aware of the inconsistencies and are working on ways to address the problem. 

I think finding a compassionate and understanding care team is nearly impossible as well. If you have one that is wonderful and listens to your concerns, be very grateful as that is the minority from the stories I have heard.  I sometimes wonder if the provider's experience personal burnout as they are dealing with many veterans and high caseloads.  I do not consider this a valid excuse, though I do wonder what is being done on the VA's end to approach this topic, if anything.  Our Caregiver Coordinator has been horrendous.  Not only did she belittle my husband's concerns, she just didn't care and insisted that they were correct in their assessment.  It seems as though you could potentially find yourself in continuous appeals with this program, as they have the right to re-evaluate your Veteran and their eligibility whenever they want to.    

Release of Information has become our best friend in this nightmare.  Not only do we have the right to know what the providers are saying, it is vital that we do know so that we can make sure things are being done correctly.  Unfortunately in this situation, not only have things been done incorrectly, but the attitude we have been shown has also been highly unprofessional and uncalled for.  We are committed to appealing this recent decision of theirs to lower him from tier 3 to 2, as his TBI and PTSD were never even taken into consideration in the evaluation, nor were we even present when it was filled out by the PCM.  It is sad that getting a correct evaluation with a pleasant demeanor is so difficult to achieve. 

You would think that our Veterans are being treated well, but unfortunately that is often not the case at all.  I have heard many other caregiver's echo that they have not had a positive experience with the caregiver program, I think if the evaluation was more consistent and worded differently and doctors were being trained on how to fill them out correctly, many appeals would never have to happen, and time could be saved.  I am an easy person to work with when you are respectful to me, but there is no reason for the rude attitude that has been shown us and our Veteran's and their caregivers deserve much more than this.  What have your experiences been with the caregiver program?  I am hopeful that others have had a positive experience and been treated fairly. 

I want to add that we are filing formal complaints with our patient advocates, as I am a firm believer that we cannot let this kind of attitude and behavior from VA employee's just slide.  If we don't all start taking a stand, who will?

Thanks for reading!

Anonymous Caregiver to an OIF Vet

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Veterans Crisis Line Outreach Blog Post

Veterans Crisis Line
Suicide Prevention Month Partner Outreach
Blog Post
Stand by Them:
Show Your Support for Veterans During Suicide Prevention Month

September is national Suicide Prevention Month, an important reminder that you can make a difference in the life of a Veteran every month and every day. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) needs organizations and individuals across the country to educate their communities about the signs of suicide risk and raise awareness about the free, confidential support available from the Veterans Crisis Line. To accomplish this mission, VA encourages Veterans’ communities, friends, and family members to get involved, learn more, and help spread the word to promote mental health and prevent Veteran suicide.

A critical step in preventing suicide is learning to recognize warning signs. Although many at-risk Veterans may not show any signs of intent to harm themselves, there are behaviors that could indicate that a Veteran needs support. In addition to talking about suicide or hurting oneself, some signs that a Veteran may be at risk for suicide include engaging in risky behaviors, withdrawing from family and friends, and feeling hopeless, anxious, and angry. To learn about additional signs that someone may be at risk, go to  

If a Veteran you know exhibits any of these signs, trained professionals—many of them Veterans themselves—at the Veterans Crisis Line can help. Just call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online at, or text to 838255 for free, confidential support, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Since its launch in 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has answered more than 640,000 calls and made more than 23,000 life-saving rescues. In 2009, an anonymous online chat service was added, which has helped more than 50,000 people. In November 2011, the Veterans Crisis Line introduced a text messaging service to provide another way for Veterans to connect with round-the-clock support. Qualified and caring VA responders are also able to provide referrals to local VA services and aid Veterans in getting fast-tracked mental health care within VA.

Every American can help prevent Veteran suicide. During Suicide Prevention Month, stand by our Veterans and their loved ones. Spread the word about the Veterans Crisis Line and help make sure that all Veterans know that confidential support is only a call, click, or text away. Go to to take the Suicide Prevention Month pledge and learn how you can educate yourself and those around you about suicide risk and the Veterans Crisis Line.

You can also visit to download free Suicide Prevention Month materials, including posters and flyers that you can print and distribute in your community; online ads in a variety of sizes and formats to display on your website; and, free, ready-to-go content for your Facebook page, Twitter feed, newsletters, or other print materials.

Our Veterans stood by us. Now let’s stand by them. Together, we can make sure they get the support they earned and deserve.

Visit to learn more.

To learn about additional warning signs of crisis, go to