RCI Statement on Afghanistan

Statement on Afghanistan from
the Rosalynn Carter Institute

Over the past week, we have watched in horror as the situation in Afghanistan worsens, and we can only imagine you are doing the same.

Many of you may be experiencing a wide range of feelings about Afghanistan.  Whatever emotions you may be having are normal, and it’s also completely reasonable for those emotions to swing back and forth. You and your families have sacrificed so much. As you work to make sense of these sacrifices, the news may make that more difficult.

Often, the most difficult times offer the chance to dig deep and find the strength that lies within. Whether through our programs, listed below, or any others provided by our partners and friends, we encourage you to summon your own resilience and let it guide you through these times. Please let us know if we can help.

Operation Family Caregiver. The Rosalynn Carter Institute’s signature military coaching program, Operation Family Caregiver, provides free and confidential one-on-one support to caregivers of those injured as a result of their military service. Our specially-trained coaches help the families of returning service members and veterans find strength through their journey so they feel fully capable of living their best lives, regardless of what life throws at them. Coaching is available in both English and Spanish. Learn more and sign up here.

Operation Caregiver Support. Powered in part by Wounded Warrior Project®, Operation Caregiver Support is a virtual peer support group for those who provide care to post-9/11 service members and veterans. Operation Caregiver Support honors and empowers injured service members, veterans, and their families by fostering connections, cultivating new skills, and creating a community of support. Registrants must be a caregiver for a post-9/11 veteran or service member and a Wounded Warrior Project Family Support Member and/or a current or previous participant of Operation Family Caregiver. Learn more and sign up here..

Crisis Text Line. The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers has partnered with Crisis Text Line® to make it even easier for caregivers to reach out for help. Caregivers now can send a text with just the keyword TOUGH and open a conversation with a counselor trained to respond to a mental health crisis. Crisis Text Line® provides high-quality, free 24/7 text-based mental health support to support people in their moments of need. By texting TOUGH to 741741, family caregivers can receive support for feelings of loneliness, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, or any other concern at any time of the day or night.

Your family’s service has taught you the true meaning of resilience. Need help with how to talk to your family about what is happening in Afghanistan? Check out this helpful resource from our partners Elizabeth Dole Foundation and Sesame Workshop. This is a difficult time, and we are here to support and walk alongside you. We are here with you. Please let us know if there is anything we can do.

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.