Linda Kreter, who runs VeteranCaregiver.com, one of the many valuable Family and Caregiver Support resources listed on the National Resource Directory, is an active advocate for family caregivers of Service members and Veterans. She participated in a panel as part of the Family Resilience Working Group at the Wounded Warrior Care Coordination Summit last week and blogged about her experience on the Veteran Caregiver Blog. Her reflections are reposted here.
Yesterday was a fascinating day. With two very special caregivers from Mologne House at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, I attended the DoD/Warrior Transition Care Summit in Leesburg, Virginia after being asked to accompany them and to provide transportation.
You all know that I am humbled and truly respect all
caregivers for their unrelenting optimism and perseverance, but rarely have I seen such grace and strength when these women presented their stories. There were five remarkable caregivers on the panel, but I will share my thoughts about the two I accompanied.
One is the sister of a seriously injured Marine and his fulltime caregiver, and at 24 years of age, has poise and presence beyond her years. The other is the mother of a seriously injured female soldier, formerly a successful marketing professional and now fulltime caregiver - articulate and succinct in her thoughts regarding improvement. They were marvelous representatives to share the genuine Caregiving Reality in this setting. And, they both want to be change agents in improving the combat recovery caregiving experience.
Caregivers are so often invisible. Not yesterday, however! The experienced participant group at the Summit listened attentively to the details these two caregivers shared regarding gaps in communication, education, medical care, 'customer service', and specific situations they would not have otherwise known. This information resonated with the group who were gathered to consider and recommend "best practices" to the DoD. The takeaway message: There is simply no One-Size-Fits-All caregiving solution, and change requires care, compassion, and an innovative view to modify the status quo.
You amazing caregivers are all such critical elements in the recovery and rehabilitation of our wounded, ill, or injured troops. Consider speaking on panels, sharing your experiences, and taking a good look at the lessons learned and the alternatives you would suggest if given the opportunity. We may not all have public forums like yesterday's, but you do have the ability to speak out here and to share your thoughts safely and without judgement. Our nation is woefully unaware of the family/friend assistance required for the continuum of care. Please consider sharing it whenever you can.
We talked on the way home that each time a caregiver speaks about their daily lives, it changes the preconceived notions of those listening. My belief is that those present yesterday will not view Caregivers with a singular label or visual in the future, but instead see real people
who need compassionate, well-informed people to help alter the way things have always been done.
Brava to both women for their candid and compassionate rhetoric on behalf of their vets! Now the focus shifts to the participant group to take those challenges to heart and create momentum and action for improvement.
We all hope the timing is very soon!
All my best,