RCI Teams Up with Duke University to Improve Supports for Caregivers

Rosalynn Carter Institute Teams Up with Duke University to Improve Supports for Caregivers

Initial Research Found Caregiver Program Reduced Childhood Anxiety

AMERICUS, GEORGIA – The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) has teamed up with researchers at Duke University to better understand the needs of unpaid caregivers across America. Over the course of two years, the partnership – which is funded by Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation – will yield recommendations on how to better prepare and support caregivers and measure outcomes from RCI programs. 

Initial joint research on the potential effect of caregiver coaching on childhood anxiety in military households – provided through RCI’s Operation Family Caregiver (OFC) program – was published in an article in the Maternal and Child Health Journal. The research reinforces the potential broader benefits of caregiver coaching and support to the family.

“While it’s the personal stories of caregivers that inspire us, it’s the data that informs our work and RCI is proud to offer research-driven, evidence-based programs that are proven to build resilience in caregivers,” said Dr. Jennifer Olsen, Executive Director of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving. “The opportunity to work with a trusted, respected research partner in Duke University is critical. These recent findings are positive, but it is clear we need to do more to understand the dynamics of caregiver stress across the entire family. We look forward to continuing our work together so that we can better support and empower even more caregivers and their families.”

Notably, the joint research found that decreases in caregiver depressive symptoms and health complaints were proportionally associated with reduced child anxiety. In other words, when military parents are less stressed, their children are less stressed, too.

“We are excited to work with RCI to provide evidenced-based results that support their incredibly important work,” said Dr. Megan Shepherd-Banigan, Assistant Professor in Duke University’s Department of Population Health Science and School of Medicine and Core Faculty in the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy. “This partnership provides a unique opportunity to use our collaborative research to quickly translate findings to on-the-ground programs that support family caregivers—a vital resource for long-term care. Our goals are to understand the experiences of vulnerable family caregivers, determine which caregivers will benefit from RCI’s programs, and builds ways to communicate important results to our program implementers and caregivers.”

In addition to this recent study, Duke researchers from the Department of Population Health Sciences continue to work with coaches in RCI’s Resources Enhancing Alzheimer’s Caregiver Health (REACH) and OFC programs, to help them understand the importance of measuring intervention outcomes, soliciting feedback, and more effectively deploying assessments.  

Researchers from the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy are also currently soliciting caregivers in the Gulf Coast region for a paid study on the needs of caregivers who have been impacted both by the COVID-19 pandemic and by a hurricane or flood, such as Hurricane Harvey. This project will help RCI better understand and respond to the needs of caregivers in emergency situations. 

“Better data means better programs, and more support for caregivers. We are always looking to reach more caregivers, in more ways, and in more places, and this is yet another example of how we can expand our reach through collaboration,” Dr. Olsen added.

K. Conwell Smith Joins Rosalynn Carter Institute

K. Conwell Smith Joins Rosalynn Carter Institute as Director of Operation Family Caregiver

Smith Brings 25 Years of Experience in Policy and Advocacy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving today announced that K. Conwell Smith is the new Director of Operation Family Caregiver (OFC) and Military Programs.

OFC is tailored to the unique needs of military families who are supporting servicemembers or veterans. Smith has 25 years of experience in policy and advocacy, including significant expertise in national health care policy.

“Conwell’s deep experience in health care policy and advocacy will be a tremendous asset for RCI as we work to elevate the  needs of unpaid caregivers, and position caregiving as a critical national priority,” said Dr. Jennifer Olsen, Executive Director of RCI. “The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clearer than ever that caregiving is an issue of public health, with significant impact on both the strength and stability of our health care system, and on the mental and physical well-being of caregivers nationwide.”

Serving military families is a priority for RCI, which launched OFC, its signature military program, in 2011. OFC provides free and confidential coaching to help the families of returning service members and veterans. The program helps caregivers find strength through their journey, so they feel fully capable of living their best lives, while managing their care responsibilities.  

“I have had an exciting and fulfilling career in health care, but it wasn’t until I became a caregiver myself that I fully realized the complexities of caregiving or the lack of institutional supports or resources available to the nation’s growing population of caregivers,” said Smith. “At RCI, caregivers learn that they aren’t alone, that they are stronger and more resilient than they realize, and that there are proven resources and approaches out there to help them on their caregiving journey. I am honored to join the team of this incredible organization and represent a founder with as much courage, conviction, and compassion as former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.”

Smith’s resume includes eight years as Vice President of Legislation and Political Affairs for the Federation of American Hospitals, as well as time with the American Medical Association and the Senate Budget Committee, where she served as Senior Health Policy Advisor. Most recently, Smith was the founder of Inside Pitch Government Affairs LLC, a consulting firm committed to the development of sound policy and project management through strategic advocacy.

Smith will be based in Washington, D.C., positioning her to most effectively advocate for caregiver interests as a national health care priority. 

OFC Announces New Partnerships

Operation Family Caregiver’s New Partnerships will Expand Support to New Communities  

RCI to Work with Caregivers on the Homefront, RallyPoint, and MVCN

AMERICUS, GEORGIA – At a time when many Americans are feeling isolated and disconnected, the Rosalynn Carter Institute (RCI) is proud to partner with Caregivers on the Homefront, RallyPoint, and the American Red Cross Military and Veteran Caregiver Network (MVCN) to expand outreach to caregivers. Through these three exciting partnerships, RCI will provide virtual programming and tools to empower caregivers who support service members and veterans across the United States and around the world. 

Serving military families is a priority for RCI, which launched its signature military program, Operation Family Caregiver (OFC), nearly 7 years ago. OFC provides free and confidential  coaching to help the families of returning service members and veterans develop new skills that make the difficult decisions they face feel more manageable and achievable. The program is tailored to the unique needs of military families. It helps caregivers find strength through their journey, so they feel fully capable of living their best lives, regardless of what life throws at them.  

“When the brave men and women of our military are called to serve, they do not serve alone. Caregivers help service members and veterans to deal with the physical, mental, and emotional wounds associated with military service,” said Dr. Jennifer Olsen, RCI’s Executive Director. “I am so grateful to our partners at Caregivers on the Homefront, RallyPoint, and the MVCN for their leadership to empower caregivers across the United States.” 

Caregivers on the Homefront provides in-person and, now increasingly, online support groups, educational workshops, and mental health and wellness restorative weekends for caregivers of veterans and active servicemembers. In response to COVID-19, Caregivers on the Homefront has also sent out care packages to caregivers, including masks, hand sanitizer, and self-care items, and is preparing to offer mental health counseling – in-person and virtually – starting by June 1. 

“Like so many military spouses, I’m proud to support and provide care to my husband, a 23-year Army veteran who served his country with distinction. But as rewarding as caregiving can be, it can also be challenging and lonely,” said Shawn Moore, founder and executive director of Caregivers on the Homefront. “I started Caregivers on the Homefront to provide the kind of resources, support, and connection that I thought was missing as a new caregiver, and it’s amazing to see our network continue to grow stronger through partnerships like this one.” 

At the same time Shawn launched Caregivers on the Homefront, she completed Operation Family Caregiver herself, working with an OFC coach who helped her put things in perspective and move forward. Among OFC’s greatest assets are the resources that coaches provide to caregivers. RallyPoint and the MVCN are also excellent resources for the military community, providing social outlets through their digital networking platforms.   

RallyPoint is an online community open to military servicemembers, veterans, family members, supporters, and caregivers, providing a peer-to-peer support network 24 hours a day. Members can ask and answer questions, share information and resources, and talk about the challenges and opportunities their community faces. During COVID-19, RallyPoint is now a hub for information sharing related to the pandemic.   

Operation Family Caregiver, a veteran-focused program at RCI, has its own presence on the RallyPoint platform, where program participants can connect, and everyone can learn more about OFC. OFC participants have a direct online sign-up option for RallyPoint.  

“RallyPoint is a virtual meeting place for veterans, active servicemembers, military families and friends, and a growing number of caregivers,” said Dave Gowel, a U.S. Army veteran and CEO of RallyPoint. “Our mission is to help all members of the military community lead more successful and fulfilling lives, and that is made possible, in part, through building a strong, resilient community of support. In RallyPoint, caregivers – including those joining us from RCI – will find that community.” 

The MVCN also offers peer-based support for military and veteran caregivers of all eras through an online community. An initiative of the American Red Cross, MVCN was developed to reduce social isolation amongst caregivers, a challenge many caregivers face, even more so now during the COVID-19 public health crisis. To help users connect virtually, the MVCN provides Zoom Caregiver Connection groups and virtual Red Cross Caregiver Workshops, as well as weekly peer support groups and weekly self-care sessions.  

“Since the start of this pandemic, the MVCN has seen an increase in participation across all of our online offerings, which speaks to the tremendous need being felt in our community,” said Melissa Comeau, the MVCN Director. “Now, perhaps more than ever, our military and veteran caregivers need a safe place to connect, share their experiences, and access resources and supports. The MVCN is that home base for our caregivers, and we’re excited to partner with Operation Family Caregiver at RCI to ensure that even more caregivers can access these services.”  

OFC to Provide Sesame Street Materials for Military Kids

Rosalynn Carter Institute, Sesame Workshop Reporting for Duty to Support Military Kids

New Partnership Will Provide Targeted Materials to Families Enrolled in Operation Family Caregiver

AMERICUS, GA – The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) and Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, today announced they have teamed up to support caregiving military and veteran families with young children in a new way.

Together, RCI and Sesame Workshop are delivering targeted Sesame Street resources to families with young children through Operation Family Caregiver (OFC), RCI’s signature military caregiving program. OFC provides free and confidential coaching, either virtually or in person, to help caregivers  build the skills they need to cope with unforeseen challenges more effectively. Tailored to the unique needs of military families, the research-based resources created by Sesame Workshop include videos, articles, and activities that look at family-based care from a child’s perspective. Sesame Workshop’s resources have now been fully integrated into OFC; coaches receive ongoing training and guidance about how and when to incorporate them into  sessions with caregivers

“Our founder Rosalynn Carter learned about the stress and isolation of family caregiving at age 13 when her father passed away,” said Dr. Jennifer Olsen, executive director of RCI. “She also experienced the challenges of raising young children when her husband was on active duty in the U.S. Navy. It is because of her dedication to supporting family caregivers that we are proud to partner with Sesame Workshop.”

Sesame Workshop’s Family Caregiving materials were designed to help children understand why their parent may look or act differently than “before,” how to safely express complicated or confusing feelings, how their parent’s illness or injury can change over time, and how to describe their family’s new situation to themselves and others. For adults, the initiative offers guidance on “re-learning” how to parent while needing care or filling a new caregiver role. More information is available on the Sesame Street in Communities website.

“We know the needs of families navigating loved ones’ care are tremendous,” said Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President, US Social Impact. “We are delighted to collaborate with RCI to make sure the youngest members of caregiving families are taken care of, too. We want every caregiving parent and child to know that they’re not alone, and that asking for help is always a brave thing to do.”

To date, OFC has helped more than 1,000 families, with caregivers who complete the program reporting reduced depression, fewer health complaints, increased satisfaction with life, and increased confidence in their ability to take care of their families; participants with young families reported  a decrease in children’s anxiety, too. With this new partnership, RCI and Sesame Workshop are collecting critical data to help both organizations refine their programs to be even more impactful.

Sign-up for Operation Family Caregiver.

OFC to Support Families Affected by Hurricane Harvey

Caregiver Coaching Program to Support Military Families Affected by Hurricane Harvey 

Bob Woodruff Foundation and Qatar Harvey Fund Support Expansion of Operation Family Caregiver into Texas Gulf Coast

October 16, 2019 – AMERICUS, GA – The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) announced today that its signature military caregiving program, Operation Family Caregiver (OFC), will serve military families in the Gulf Coast of Texas, an area still recovering from the impact of Hurricane Harvey, which struck with astounding force in August 2017. OFC provides support to the families of returning service members and veterans. The expansion to this area of the country is supported by a grant awarded by the Bob Woodruff Foundation, which has partnered with the Qatar Harvey Fund to support veterans affected by Hurricane Harvey.

“The Bob Woodruff Foundation has been a committed and powerful partner,” said RCI’s executive director Dr. Jennifer Olsen, “With their continual support, we have expanded our support to military caregivers. We are so pleased to benefit from the foundation’s partnership with the Qatar Harvey Fund and to be able to explore how OFC can help caregivers whose lives have been upended not only by the challenge of caring for a loved one but magnified by a natural disaster.” 

The Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) has been an ongoing supporter of OFC and enabled the program’s expansion into the state of Washington in 2017. With this latest grant, BWF and the Qatar Harvey Fund allow OFC to explore further how additional stressors such as national disasters, can exacerbate the challenges faced by military families, and how support systems like OFC can help. 

Since its launch in 2013, OFC has helped more than 1,000 families across the country. After completing the OFC program, caregivers are less depressed and more satisfied with their lives, have fewer health complaints, and are generally more prepared to take care of their families. Caregivers have also reported statistically significant reductions in anxiety among children in the household after completion of the program.

RCI and ALS Association of GA Announce Partnership

Rosalynn Carter Institute and the ALS Association of Georgia Announce Partnership

New Partnership will support those who care for people living with ALS in Georgia

August 1, 2019 – Americus, GA – The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) and The ALS Association of Georgia announced today that the two groups are creating a unique partnership to support those that care for people living with ALS in Georgia. Together the groups will help caregivers with their physical and mental well-being and teach them skills to navigate the challenges of their loved one’s illness.

“ALS is an illness that has an increasing toll on the caregiver as they watch their loved one develop the symptoms of the disease. By extending our programs to ALS caregivers, we continue to fulfill the RCI mission of helping more caregivers in more places but also offer these selfless people support and tools that will help them manage their caregiving journey,” said Dr. Jennifer Olsen, executive director of RCI. “Beyond the direct support of the caregiver, this partnership will help RCI shape our programs to better serve ALS caregivers as well as other neurodegenerative disease caregivers.”

As noted by Sarah Embro, Executive Director of The ALS Association of Georgia, “in alignment with our mission to provide resources and community support services to families living with ALS, we are excited about our new partnership with RCI to provide evidence-based care and support, programming specific to the needs of caregivers of people living with ALS.   Recognizing the needs of caregivers is one aspect of the Georgia Chapter’s holistic care services programming, and this partnership with RCI further strengthens the support we can provide.”

The partnership centers around supporting caregivers for those with ALS using the RCI programs Caring for You, Caring for Me and Operation Family Caregiver,  increasing awareness of the services offered by RCI for all caregivers, and information-sharing to help RCI tailor their programs to address the specific needs of caregivers for people living with ALS.

Operation Family Caregiver coaches family and friends of returning service members and veterans to manage difficult transitions. Veterans are twice as likely to be diagnosed with  ALS as the general public.

The partnership includes:

  • Caring for You, Caring for Me. RCI will train ALS Association of Georgia facilitators to deliver this 10-hour program, which addresses the needs of caregivers by bringing them together in a relaxed setting to discuss common issues, share ideas, and gain a better understanding of each other’s perspective on what it means to be a caregiver for someone living with ALS. The goals of Caring for You, Caring for Me are for caregivers to have the opportunity to:
    •  Gain information on various topics related to caregiving
    • Learn ways of coping with the stresses and strains of being a caregiver
    • Learn what resources are available locally, regionally and nationally
    • Discover ways of working together to reduce frustrations and barriers in the caregiving experience
    • Share common concerns and issues
  • A research partnership that will help RCI determine how to adapt the program specifically to ALS. RCI will fund a graduate fellow to do caregiver specific research on the ALS population.
  • In the longer-term, RCI and The ALS Association of Georgia are hoping to tailor another of RCI’s signature programs, Dealing with Dementia, to the ALS population.
  • RCI and The ALS Association of Georgia will work to support military ALS families through the Operation Family Caregiver program. Veterans are twice as likely to be diagnosed with ALS than the general population.
  • The two organizations will share information with each other’s communities and work together to shine a spotlight on ALS caregivers.

Support for Military Families Expands to El Paso

Support for Military Families Expands to El Paso, Texas

Program Reduces Stress Among Caregivers of Service Members and Veterans

September 1, 2019 — AMERICUS, GEORGIA — The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) is pleased to announce that Operation Family Caregiver (OFC), its program supporting military families, will now be supporting families of veterans and service members in El Paso, Texas.

Operation Family Caregiver is a proven, evidence-based program that provides support to the families of returning service members and veterans. Specially-trained coaches teach military families the skills they need to overcome unforeseen challenges and cope more effectively with problems they never imagined. Caregivers who have completed the program report being less depressed and more satisfied with their lives, have fewer health complaints, and are generally more prepared to take care of their families. Those caregivers who are parents also report reduced anxiety among their child or children. 

Last fall, RCI announced a landmark agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish three new OFC sites functioning in partnership with VA medical centers. In El Paso, the program is located at the El Paso VA Health Care System. In a move from Tucson, Arizona, to El Paso, the new coach will be working with caregivers in the area referred by the El Paso VA, as well as military spouses and other caregivers from across the country via phone or video conference. In addition to the new OFC site in Texas, OFC serves military families at VA facilities in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Central Texas. This expansion was made possible by the generous support of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation

Texas was a natural location for OFC’s expansion, which has helped nearly 1,000 families since its launch in 2012. According to a report from the Texas Workforce Investment Council that was updated in 2019, Texas has the second-largest veteran population in the country, with just over 1.46 million veterans, or 7.0 percent of the state’s population age 18 and older. In El Paso County, the veteran population was more than 66,000 in 2017. Approximately 17 percent of the Texas veteran population is Hispanic, and the new coach will be able to provide support in both Spanish and English.

“Being able to seek help in one’s preferred language makes a huge difference in the level of comfort,” said Dr. Jennifer Olsen, RCI’s executive director. “We have made a concerted effort to deliver Operation Family Caregiver to Spanish-speaking families, and we’re so happy to be able to do so with this expansion to El Paso.”

Support of Military Families Expands to VA Facilities

Support of Military Families Expands to VA Facilities

Program Reduces Stress Among Caregivers of Service Members and Veterans

Sunday, January 13th, 2019— AMERICUS, GEORGIA — The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) is pleased to announce that Operation Family Caregiver (OFC), its program supporting military families, is now available to the families of veterans and service members in Central Texas; Fayetteville, North Carolina; and Tucson, Arizona.

Operation Family Caregiver (OFC) is a proven, evidence-based program that provides support to the families of returning service members and veterans. Specially-trained coaches teach military families the skills they need to overcome unforeseen challenges and cope more effectively with problems they never imagined. Caregivers who have completed the program report being less depressed and more satisfied with their lives, have fewer health complaints, and are generally more prepared to take care of their families. Those caregivers who are parents also report reduced anxiety among their child or children.

This past October, RCI announced a landmark agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish three new OFC sites functioning in partnership with VA medical centers. These new sites include:

This expansion was made possible by the generous support of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.

Texas has the second-largest veteran population in the country, with nearly 1.5 million veterans, or 7.6 percent of the state’s population age 18 and older, according to a report from the Texas Workforce Investment Council. OFC has thrived in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park area since 2015, through Easterseals UCP. The expansion to a second location in the state builds on the interest already generated as well as a real need, as North Carolina has the fourth-largest active duty military population and the eighth-largest veteran population in the country. And Arizona boasts more than 522,000 veterans, with almost one-fifth of them located in Pima County, where Tucson is located.

Since its launch in 2012, OFC has helped nearly 850 families across the country and around the world. While the program can be provided in person at 12 different sites, participants do not need to be in one of these locations; coaches can also meet caregivers via video chat.

“We know that family caregivers are critical members of a veteran’s treatment team, and OFC is doing a fantastic job providing them with all the tools they need to care for their veteran and also for themselves,” said Meg Kabat, the National Director of the Caregiver Support Program for the VA. “It is in all of our interests to make the program an integral part of a veteran’s healthcare.”

Support Expands to Alabama

Support for Military Families Expands to Central Alabama

Program Will Be Delivered by Univ. of Alabama Graduate Students

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019 — AMERICUS, GEORGIA — The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) is pleased to announce that Operation Family Caregiver (OFC), its program supporting military families, is now available to the families of veterans and service members in Central Alabama.

Operation Family Caregiver (OFC) is a proven, evidence-based program that provides support to the families of returning service members and veterans. Specially-trained coaches teach military families the skills they need to overcome unforeseen challenges and cope more effectively with problems they never imagined. Caregivers who have completed the program report being less depressed and more satisfied with their lives, have fewer health complaints, and are generally more prepared to take care of their families. Those caregivers who are parents also report reduced anxiety among their child or children.

This past October, RCI announced a landmark agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish a set of new OFC sites functioning in partnership with VA medical centers. In Alabama, the program will be located at the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System in Montgomery. OFC has also recently begun serving military families at VA facilities in Fayetteville, North CarolinaTucson, Arizona; and Central Texas.

In Alabama, OFC will partner not only with the VA but also with the University of Alabama(UA). This new model for the program will employ as its coaches graduate students from the University’s School of Social Work. The students, who are pursuing master’s degrees in social work, will gain practical experience in an established program, with oversight from the national office and a direct relationship with the local VA. The caregivers who enroll in the program will benefit from coaches at the forefront of a robust rigorous program. Students will be selected based on criteria including their experience with caregiving and with military and veteran concerns.

Central Alabama is a natural location for OFC’s expansion. According to U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, of the nearly 21 million veterans across the country, nearly than 370,000 live in Alabama and nearly 10 percent of the state’s population identifies as a veteran. In Dale County, the rate is as high as 18.3 percent, followed closely by Coffee County, where 17.7 percent of the population identify as veterans. The Central Alabama OFC site will also provide support to families stationed at Fort Benning, which supports more than 120,000 active-duty military, family members, reserve component soldiers, retirees, and civilian employees.

Since its launch in 2012, OFC has helped more than 850 families across the country and around the world. While the program can be provided in person at 11 different sites, participants do not need to be in one of these locations; coaches can also meet caregivers via video chat.

Olsen Says Democracy Alive and Well

RCI’s Exec. Director Authors Opinion Piece in Americus Times-Recorder

America’s Democracy: Alive and Well, Thanks to Our Military and Veterans

Since the midterm elections earlier this month, there has been a lot of excitement about the changing demographics of the next Congress. Regardless of your political leanings, and whether you voted or not, change is afoot in both parties. A record number of women were elected to office, and while the number of veterans in the 116th Congress will probably (we are still waiting for some races to be verified) be slightly lower than the 102 veterans that began the last session, almost half of the them served after September 11, 2001.

According to the Military Times, while the number of veterans in Congress is in decline, the number of young veterans has increased every election since 2006. This is great news for those of us who are counting on our elected officials to help raise awareness about the challenges that veterans and service members—and their families—face when they return home.

That’s one of the goals of Operation Family Caregiver (OFC), a program for the families of those who have proudly served our nation and returned from their service to a country that frequently has no idea what they’ve been through. Many civilians just can’t relate, as they have little experience with the military. Studies have shown a huge, and growing, disconnect between military and non-military populations. A 2011 study by the Pew Research Center found that while more than three-quarters of adults age 50 or over had an immediate family member who had served in the military, only one-third of those ages 18-29 can say the same. In 2017, the Veterans’ Well-Being Survey completed by Edelman Intelligence found that only about one-quarter of the non-veterans that were surveyed believe they have a lot in common with veterans.

A government that represents military experience benefits this country for many reasons—not the least of which is an understanding of how military service affects the entire family. Since 9/11, more than 2.77 million service members have served in the global war on terrorism, and more than 50,000 have been seriously wounded in action. There are more than 1 million people caring for a service member who has returned with an injury—a task they did not expect and often are unprepared for.

Injured servicemen and women come home from war facing an entirely new set of circumstances. An estimated 1 in 5 return with posttraumatic stress or major depression, and more than 300,000 are estimated to have a traumatic brain injury. OFC is a proven program that coaches caregivers to adapt to the “new normal” when their loved ones return home with injuries both visible and invisible, through free and confidential support. Specially-trained “coaches” help caregivers learn how to overcome the obstacles they face and to manage any challenges that might come along.

OFC was started by the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, and evidence has shown it helps caregivers become more satisfied with their lives, have fewer health issues, and generally become more prepared to take care of their families. It is available in person in 8 locations across the country, or via video to caregivers around the world.

On November 11, we celebrated Veteran’s Day and honored our great nation’s servicemen and women, reserves, and of course our veterans. But we can’t forget what we ask of their families. That’s why November is also recognized as Military Family Appreciation Month and National Family Caregivers Month. This month, more Americans turned out to vote in midterms than had done so in half a century! It can be easy to forget in the heat of the moment that our military serves to protect our democracy, including the freedom to participate in elections. Please join me in honoring their sacrifice, and the sacrifice their families make, this November.

Jennifer Olsen, DrPH, is the executive director of the Rosalynn Carter Institutue for Caregiving at Georgia Southwestern State University. 

Read op-ed in Americus Times-Recorder >>