Identifying a military caregiver (this could be you)

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Melissa Comeau talks about identifying as a military caregiver during the 2017 ALA Washington DC Conference.

Given the number of aging veterans who served in previous wars, coupled with the needs of our newest veterans of the war on terror, many more of us are caregivers – without even realizing it.

Melissa Comeau, Director of the Military and Veteran Caregiver Network, said there was a time when she didn’t know she was a military caregiver. Her husband, retired U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Stephen Comeau, completed five combat deployments, and after 13 years of service, he was medically retired due to combat-related injuries. Even though she was managing his medication and taking him to appointments, she didn’t identify as a caregiver.

“I just thought I was a wife and I was doing what any wife would do,” Comeau said. “Quantifying your role as a caregiver and knowing that you’re not alone is life changing.”

There currently are 5.5 million military caregivers across the United States. Not sure if you’re one of them? Consider these questions:

  • Do you do things for someone who serves or served in the Armed Forces that he or she can’t do anymore?
  • Do you help someone who serves or served in the Armed Forces with stress, emotional issues, anger, or depression?
  • Do you take someone who serves or served in the Armed Forces to medical appointments or arrange any form of health care for them?
  • Do you sometimes, even often, feel alone or isolated in your duties because no one around you does the same thing or seems to understand?
  • Do you feel you do the care responsibilities for someone who served in the Armed Forces because they are your spouse, son/daughter, friend, sibling, or other family member?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, you may be a military caregiver, according to the Military and Veteran Caregiver Network.

You are NOT alone. If you are a military caregiver, or know someone who is, check out these sites for resources:

The American Legion Family: Provides resources for military servicemembers, veterans, and their families, including support for caregivers. www.ALAforVeterans.org and www.legion.org.

Elizabeth Dole Foundation: Provides caregiving support, peer networking, and training for caregivers of military servicemembers and veterans. The foundation’s website at www.elizabethdolefoundation.org also features a resource directory.

Caregivers Advocate Program: The Department of Veterans Affairs provides tools for military caregivers here: www.cargiver.va.gov.

Military and Veteran Caregiver Network: Offers an online peer support network and other services for military caregivers: www.milvetcaregivernetwork.org.

For even more caregiver resources, visit, www.operationfamilycaregiver.org, www.caregiveraction.org, and www.partnersonthepath.org.

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