Young spouses and aging parents are taking care of America's wounded warriors – in many cases, at the expense of their own health and well-being. Others returning from war don't have traditional family members who can help, and they lean heavily on friends and battle buddies.
Caring for a returning service member, whatever their injuries, is a huge job. Whether you are managing prescriptions and doctor's appointments, or bathing, dressing, and feeding someone who can no longer do these things himself, it does not come with an instruction manual. And often, it does not come with a thank you.
Maybe you simply do what needs to be done because you're the only one who can do it. You may not think of yourself as a "caregiver." Think again.
“The knock at the door...there's the fear of it being someone in a uniform to give you the worst news a military spouse could get, or a utility company handing you a piece of paper then shutting off your electricity. In a flash, it's a slap in the face; you have failed being Wonder Woman for your family...”Jamie, Pennsylvania
Taking all of this on can be a burden, and it can be hard to ask for help. Some people want to maintain their privacy; others are embarassed to admit they are overwhelmed. Or maybe they are just too busy to take care of anything but their family's most basic needs.
Government and community organizations offer many services for returning service members and veterans, but they focus mostly on meeting today's urgent and pressing needs – for food, shelter, or work.
Operation Family Caregiver helps families lay a strong foundation so they can meet their own needs over the long term. Learn how.
A dear friend to both President and Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, Mattie J.T. Stepanek, believed that although we all have life storms, there is a champion within each of us, waiting to emerge and pull us through. Mattie died on June 22, 2004, just a month before his 14th birthday, due to complications of Dysautonomic Mitochondrial Myopathy, a rare and fatal neuromuscular disease. During his brief life, Mattie created seven New York Times bestselling books and served as the National Goodwill Ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. His philosophy of “remembering to play after every storm” has brought inspiration and hope to millions worldwide. The Rosalynn Carter Institute’s Mattie J.T. Stepanek Caregiving Scholarship honors Mattie’s memory by providing financial assistance to military caregivers who are active or past participants in Operation Family Caregiver. Read about 2015’s scholarship winners.