Military Caregivers can help fix the gaps
By MaryTherese Griffin, Warrior Care and Transition

ARLINGTON Va. - As this year's Warrior Care Month comes to a close, the Military Caregivers Heart of Recovery initiative has developed a survey to help identify the service, resource, and training needs of those family and friends who serve as the caregiver for wounded, ill and injured military personnel. Caregiver participation in this survey is critical because this initiative will assist them, their family, their friends, and ultimately the service member being cared for. The information learned from this survey will help guide the initiative to meet caregiver needs.

According to Marianne Campano, Health System Specialist, U.S. Army Public Health Command, in 2015 a group of military spouses and military care experts researched and released a paper about the needs of caregivers that are not being met. "They concluded that while there are many resources for caregivers, there is no synchronized effort above the local level to address the non-medical aspects of recovery. As a result, caregivers are left struggling to understand who is responsible for what, and what their role is in the recovery process."

Caregivers in the areas of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas and Fort Sill, Oklahoma provide a nice cross section and are being asked to complete the anonymous survey.

"Every caregiver situation is unique. The largest group of post 9/11 military caregivers are spouses (33%) followed by parents (25%). [Of that post 9/11 caregiver group,] 37% are 30 or younger and 49% are between the ages of 31 and 55," Campano explained. "This is the reason that we went through the most comprehensive review process with the Office of Management and Budget, so that we could survey not only DOD beneficiaries, but non-dependents so that we could capture the parents, friends and general public that are supporting our wounded warriors."

As critical as care for wounded, ill and injured military members and their families will always be, the survey being conducted is also important according to Campano. "[Caregiver] responses are critical in ensuring that our leadership has the best information possible to resolve significant gaps in services and community issues."

If you are a caregiver, or know a caregiver, to a Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine or Guardsman, Active or Reserve in the areas of Fort Bragg, Joint Base Lewis McChord, Joint Base San Antonio or Fort Sill, please complete the survey at http://militarycaregiver.health.mil/survey to help identify and address the needs of caregivers so they can be better equipped to care for their service member.