Are you a family member or friend caring for a wounded, ill or injured service member? If so, you are not alone. According to a RAND report on military caregivers, there are approximately 1.1 million post 9/11 military caregivers. For some, the role of caregiver is triggered by a major event such as a combat injury or a car wreck, and life as one knows it comes to a screeching halt to care for a loved one. For others, caregiving sneaks up slowly, as they begin to realize that they are increasingly the individual who ensures their spouse or care recipient takes their medicines. Some individuals discover that their "new normal" includes looking out for triggers or assisting with other behaviors associated with invisible wounds. Eventually, they find they have taken on a role that they have never done before, and they begin to realize that their life has changed dramatically. Whether one provides physical support or emotional support, or both, this new role has a name and it is called: "Caregiver."

According to the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, one of the biggest challenges for military caregivers is realizing they are, in fact, "caregivers." There are many resources available for military caregivers and when a person recognizes that they are indeed a "caregiver," they can find the right resources for their specific needs. This is especially important in the beginning, when a person may be struggling to understand their care recipient's medical condition, or feeling insecure and overwhelmed in this new role. Additionally, military caregivers also report that providing care to someone in the military also has its challenges because of other processes, including the Integrated Disability Evaluation System, understanding benefits, and transitioning to civilian life and the Veterans Administration or a new military assignment.

The Army Public Health Center recognizes the challenges and sacrifices caregivers make every day. To better understand the specific needs of military caregivers, the APHC is conducting a survey. If you are a family member or friend caring for a Service Member at Fort Bragg, Fort Sill, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, or Joint Base San Antonio, the Army wants to hear from you! The Service Member receiving caregiver support may be in a Warrior Transition Battalion, or going through the Disability Evaluation System, or may be suffering invisible wounds and not seeking care at all. The information you provide in this anonymous survey is critical because it will help leaders understand how to best standardize support and link caregivers with training and medical, financial, legal, career, spiritual and other support services.

You can take the survey at: http://militarycaregiver.health.mil/survey. More information and resources for caregivers can be found at: http://militarycaregiver.health.mil.