Knowing, meeting, and/or communicating with others who understand your Caregiver Journey can be life-sustaining. Family and friends who better understand the inevitable ups and downs can also ease this journey. We provide you online peer support and resources, and we strongly encourage and assist in a network of in-person informal local peer groups. While social media is so prevalent, it can sometimes distance us from others, and even cause more serious actions through a tired, thoughtless comment. We’ll give you communication and education options to offer what best works for you and your family. Sometimes a brief phone call or a quick cup of coffee with a local peer or family member fills a gap you may only realize later is fulfilled through personal contact. A combination of peer and family support with mentors who’ve walked this path before you is a vital connection.
It’s important to feel safe and unjudged in whatever group or forum you use. Communications via VeteranCaregiver or through peer groups are done with great care to keep the discourse civil, helpful, and nonjudgmental. In moments of great fatigue or frustration, others may be unaware of how their casual remark can hurt, but we are here to help you and boost your capabilities to cope. We’d like you to thrive! We do not ascribe to the “Competitive Caregiving” that may exist elsewhere and kindly ask all to recognize that each situation is unlike any other — even if some aspects are similar and common to many.
Many challenges to Caregiving are best shared with another Caregiver, and those from other conflicts can be very helpful with diverse perspectives. It’s also important to know as much as possible about the medical conditions affecting your family, and to realize that over time, you (the Caregiver) could experience secondary symptoms of some conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress or PTS. As a family member or friend, you also benefit from our resources to better communicate and support others. Understanding, compassion, patience, and a willingness to listen are priceless qualities which we’ll enhance through multi-media efforts.
Knowing as much as possible about a particular medical condition leads to your being a good advocate and observer, which is helpful in finding care that best fits your situation. This also helps you seek medical help or counseling of your own or for your children, which is a healthy response and one we highly recommend. You’ll find help in Resources, though we do not re-create what can be easily found with an Internet search. We are available to help you find a specialty resource if you cannot find what you need; there is usually a way to find help for you and we’ll do our best.
If it would help your injured family member to have a peer of their own, or to mentor another veteran, wonderful organizations are familiar with the value of finding a fellow service member or veteran of the same MOS. Combat veterans often benefit from peer support, and we suggest searching online for local colleagues or organizations. There are a growing number of non-profits and VSO’s that are holding weekly meetings, and the VA may also have a program in your area. Other non-profits are providing retreats or programs of service that may be of interest and some offer peer support remotely through Skype or FaceTime. Peer-to-peer support can be a very positive experience.
Your challenges are many, and they will vary along the continuum of recovery and care. Recovery and healing, or managing and coping are not the same for any two situations. You know that people are not perfect, and close family and friends are often the most difficult to educate. It helps, however, if they can better understand your day to day life, and you will learn from others ways they’ve found for cutting through the noise and getting to the point of a better understanding – or setting better boundaries if necessary.
Bridging the military and civilian “divide” is improving, but you will still find those unaware of your situation and learning to explain it briefly is helpful and addressed in multiple ways on our site. We will continually work toward creating and sharing new resources to give you glimpses into new therapies, programs, alternatives in care, and making the choice many times a day to live a happier, complete life. Welcome!