Think about your day-to-day life and schedule. You have your routines, jobs, goals, enjoyments, and much more. Could you imagine if one day you were all of a sudden responsible for someone else and their day-to-day life?

When we think about the brave men and women who return home from serving our country, we oftentimes forget or overlook those whom they are coming home to. Their spouses, children, parents, siblings, friends and acquaintances. Their caregivers. There are over five and a half million people acting as military caregivers in our nation today.

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Many service members returning home bring back pains, injuries and illnesses, both physical and mental. As they get adjusted back to civilian life, it is often times their caregivers who are there to guide them and provide support every step of the way. They need to be able to learn to balance their own life goals and plans with their new responsibilities as a caregiver.

Being a caregiver is not an easy duty; it is not one that comes with formal training, a job description, or a salary. This is a complete new way of life for them. These caregivers have to be strong not only for themselves, but for the service members they support when they cannot be strong on their own. The caregiver’s “workday” does not end at 5 PM, it is constant and ever changing. Each day brings something new, whether that is a new step forward in a positive direction or a bump in the road. Unfortunately many of these caregivers are left to fill many hats, and are unable to focus on their own well-being.   

Now, how can we help the helpers? The more support caregivers have, the easier this lifestyle can become. How can the caregivers help with the pains, injuries, and illnesses that these service members are faced with if they do not have the knowledge of them and how to treat them? If they were able to understand everything that accompanies a service member with a return home from deployment prior to become their caregiver, it would give a chance for them to prepare. Simply just supporting and being there for the caregiver can make a world of difference.

Caregivers often feel like they can’t or shouldn’t take the time for themselves or put their wants and needs over the service member they are caring for. But, at the end of the day they need to be reminded that in order to be able to take care of someone else you must take care of yourself first. Taking care of yourself can be a number of things. For some it may be going to school to further or gain more education. Others it could be spending time to go to work and further their careers. Honestly, for many it is just a chance to relax, go shopping, go to the gym, or enjoy a day just prioritizing themselves.

There are a handful of organizations around the country who provide support to those acting as caregivers to our nation’s service men and women. There are numerous resources which provide support at local, state and national levels. Various organizations have also looked to work with leaders in private, public, nonprofit, faith and labor communities to provide support to those acting as military caregivers. Additionally with many programs out there working to support these caregivers, many foundations are currently lobbying for Congress to expand the VA’s caregiver program. Each day more and more people reach out to help, and strides are being made to expand assistance for our military’s caregivers.

The Purple Heart Foundation provides various programs and assistance that supports not only the veterans, but their caregivers as well. The Purple Heart Foundation offers The Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) Scholarship Program for those family member caregivers looking to gain higher education and advance their careers. Additionally, the Purple Heart Foundation works to help service members transition back to normal civilian life and employment outside of the military, which in turn can help their respective caregivers.  
The Purple Heart Foundation is committed to assisting veterans, and their caregivers, in all aspects of their lives, including helping those who are in need of assistance while transitioning home from the battlefield. You can show your support for these brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country by making a one-time or monthly pledge to ensure veterans continue to get the support and benefits they deserve by clicking here.