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Caring for Our Military Caregivers

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” — Joseph Campbell

Earlier this year, Veterans Affairs officials agreed to a set of 12 recommendations that are meant to assist family caregivers of veterans with things like including caregivers in medical check-ups, creating new training and support services and expanding research into their challenges. Read more about these recommendations.

Because of the work we do in non-medical home care and the services we provide to military caregivers and their loved ones, a couple of these recommendations stood out to us:

  • Recommendation 6: Conduct a thorough analysis of the need for respite care resources and their availability.
  • Recommendation 8: Improve training for caregivers and include them in veterans’ medical planning from day one.

At FirstLight Home Care, we are proud to have a CEO who is so focused on caring for our military veterans and their families. Jeff Bevis is continuing an ongoing dialog to ensure that resources and assistance in respite care, as well as family caregiver training, are available for our nation’s 5.5 million military caregivers.

Jeff is a leader in VetFran and currently serves as committee chairman of the International Franchise Association (IFA) Education Foundation VetFran Committee, which helps provide access and opportunities in both employment and franchising for veterans and their spouses. Jeff is also a key contributor in discussions with The Elizabeth Dole Foundation, an organization that works with leaders in the public, private, nonprofit and faith communities to recognize military caregivers’ service and promote their well-being.

What we can do as a home care company is to offer respite care that gives family members and other loved ones who are primary caregivers a break from the demands of their own caregiving responsibilities. We can also work with families to help them navigate some of the complexities when it comes to the caregiving needs, health care benefits and resources of their veteran loved ones.

Jeff previously shared these insights in a piece about the growing crisis of veteran family caregivers:

Families often struggle to provide care for their wounded warriors. It’s not just a function of the increasing number of veterans needing care. A major contributing factor is the increasing complexity of veteran needs being faced by the family caregivers. Today’s veterans needing care are returning from deployments with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at record levels. Coupled with an aging Veterans Affairs (VA) care system that struggles to keep up with demand, family caregivers face unrelenting pressure to try to do more for their veterans.

Family caregivers can struggle with the mental health needs of their loved ones who suffer from the challenges of TBIs or PTSD. Meanwhile, the VA system strains to keep up with the sheer volume of veterans now in the system with World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and Iraq and Afghanistan veterans all seeking care and treatment. 

There are many costs related to caregiving, both financial and personal. Families are torn on an economic front trying to make ends meet, juggling the dual full-time pressures of work and care while searching for the right alternatives to address the needs of their veteran family members. This generates stress and friction between parents and adult children, and between veterans and their spouses, as they struggle with issues related to home accessibility, functionality and the mobility of veterans.

To cope, families can start by learning as much as they can about the VA health care system. Caregivers should investigate the aid and attendant benefits that every veteran who served at least one day in wartime is entitled to but, sadly, might never have been told about.

Are you the family caregiver of a military veteran? What kinds of resources, education and support would help you on your caregiving journey? Comment on this post. We would love to hear from you!

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