By Samantha L. QuigleyMarch 29, 2007
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 29, 2007) - Understanding the critical role spouses play in the recovery of wounded warriors, Operation Homefront has created the Wounded Warrior Wives Project to help them navigate the challenges they may face.
"While the military sees to their physical health, the key to the short- and long-term stability and full restoration of our wounded warriors lies in the support of their spouses," said Meredith Leyva, founder of Operation Homefront. "It is the spouses, not the wounded warriors, who are most responsible for key family issues such as financial viability and seeking assistance."
The Wounded Warrior Wives Project is an opportunity for spouses to get together and discuss issues surrounding their servicemembers' recovery, Leyva said. And though the title specifically mentions wives, "we are certainly open to everyone," she said.
The Wounded Warrior Wives Project began at Operation Homefront's annual chapter presidents' meeting, Leyva said. The group recognized that each new phase of recovery and rehabilitation brings new challenges not only for patients, but also for caregivers, Leyva said.
"It's a comprehensive program," Leyva said. "We catch them in the hospital at the acute phase (and) they can continue with physical support groups at the rehabilitation centers."
The Wounded Warrior Wives Project strives to provide caregivers with an emotional and practical support system to navigate challenges. Through the program, Operation Homefront will provide support groups at each major military medical facility, Leyva said.
It will continue this support network beyond the family's involvement in the medical system with Web-based magazine content and discussion forums that will directly address pertinent issues. This content will launch April 2, she said.
The Web content will become a new section on CinCHouse.com, Operation Homefront's online community. Dr. Julia Storey, a retired Air Force psychologist, and Tonia Sargent, a Marine wife whose husband suffered severe head injuries, will lead the endeavor, Leyva said.
Local support groups are primarily peer-to-peer with the goal of presenting information on all the programs available for military families, Leyva said.
"However, we will not be allowing command officials and program officials into the inner workings of the support group meetings, as a matter of privacy, unless the support group members specifically request that," Leyva said. "People need to be able to talk openly and without fear of reprisal, and I think command officials understand this."
Operation Homefront is a member of the Defense Department's America Supports You program, which highlights the support the nation's servicemembers are receiving from the American public and the corporate sector.
(Samantha L. Quigley writes for the American Forces Press Service.)