Program Proven to Reduce Stress Among Caregivers of Service Members and Veterans to be Delivered by Graduate Students from University of Alabama

Support for Military Families Expands to Central Alabama

AMERICUS, GEORGIA (March 19, 2019) — 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 Carolina; Tucson, 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.