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For Those Who Have Served - Warriors and their Caregivers

For those who have served and those who serve them!

A Day to Remember Veterans and Their Loved Ones!

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!

TO OUR VETERANS AND THEIR CAREGIVERS........

We honor our veterans for they are the warriors that provide me the freedom to be able to write anything I want here in this blog. But please let me tell you that Memorial Day is also a day I reflect on the families around the veteran who are acknowledged too infrequently as we reflect this weekend with great gratitude.

When I attended last month’s NASW Congress, I was struck how far ahead that the VA services were in understanding the caregiver issue. The spouses, partners, children, families and in laws that not only suffer through depression, anxiety and daily stress in their concerns for the warriors in all of our lives.

My nephew returned from Iraq. The caregiver network around him was overwhelmed. I know that first hand. His return to the States was not the end to the situation by any means When he came back, safe it to assume that he had a great deal of PTSD and his energy, through the PTSD, became even more challenging for the caregivers around him.

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Though the government around us have a difficult time identifying PTSD as a condition that needs to be diagnosed, believe me when I tell you that the heroic caregivers do not have as much of a problem knowing that the warrior in their life has brought this condition back to their homes; as if being married and parenting were not hard enough. Feel free to Google "PTSD" to understand what we are speaking about here. It is intense and our goverment still suffers from a true denial, driven more from the dollar side than the humanitarian side.

So on this day, let us remember that the veterans who have protected our country for the several hundred years of America's history. But now in 2010 it is time to see this challenge as a "Family Systems phenomena"  and the caregivers of these heroes, the family first responders of our veterans, also need to be thought of in our gratitude today.

Heck, if it takes a village, it certainly takes a family.

As you can read the Congressional Bill , we can assume that we are beginning to incorporate this "caregiver mindset infrastructure" within our culture and hopefully in Memorial Days to come. Kudos to NASW www.naswdc.org for recognizing this at our last NASW Congress.

Though I began working with caregivers ten years ago and wanted to educate, empower and energize them in their healing journey, this will never happen until our government, NPOs. Associations and caregivers as a whole begin to self identify.

It appears that last month, a bill went by the American psyches without much fanfare but important to bring up today in this blog.

LANDMARK VETERAN CAREGIVER BILL SIGNED INTO LAW 

Supports Veteran Caregivers, Returning Troops and Families 

Washington, May 6 - Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) today announced that a landmark veteran caregiver bill passed by Congress two weeks ago is now law. The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act provides unprecedented new benefits to veteran caregivers including training, counseling, health care and financial assistance. President Obama signed the bill into law late Wednesday. 

“This landmark legislation stands by our troops and supports those caregivers who continue to stand with them,” said Congressman Cuellar. “Everyday, millions of military families support men and women in uniform, making sacrifices for the sake of our country. These caregiver benefits are vitally needed and well-deserved.” 

The act provides support services to family and other caregivers of all veterans, including stipends for caregivers living with severely wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. The act will also create two distinct caregiver programs within the Department of Veterans Affairs, one for all caregivers and one specifically designed for those supporting Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. 

Caregivers are defined as family members of veterans or non-family members who live with a veteran. Training, education, counseling, mental health services, lodging, financial assistance and subsistence payments for accompanying veterans on medical care visits will be provided to qualifying caregivers as a result of this legislation. 

In addition, caregivers will be provided health care services through the Civilian Health and Medical Program (CHAMPVA) of the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

As the East teaches us, A Journey of a Thousand Miles begins with one step. Kudos to  our government for taking that first step; even though this your awareness of this bill might have been overshadowed by American Idol, Dancing with the Stars and of course Lindsay Lohan’s ankle bracelet

ENJOY YOUR "FAMILIES OF CHOICE AND OF ORIGIN". 

ITS A CONNECTIVE "PICNIC WEEKEND."

REMEMBER NOT TO ISOLATE!

Make sure you connect with social networks like www.intherooms.com and www.leezasplace.org.  Use those cyber presence as a "lilly pads"  to connect with a real life support network, we often call your   “Family of Choice”

Caregivers and Carees, Take Your Oxygen First (www.takeyouroxygenfirst.com) and shower yourself in the gratitude for our veterans and the loved ones who support them so loyally!

James Huysman, PsyD, LCSW, is a leading authority on caregiver burnout, compassion fatigue and related addictions. Aside from his blog here, he writes a behavioral health column for Florida MD.

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