Saluting Our Veterans — and Their Unsung Heroes

chasity
Allen and Chasity

Eleven years ago, Allen returned from Iraq, having survived an IED blast that inflicted both significant physical and emotional harm. This military veteran, husband, and father of two young children now faced a life-changing, long and tough road to recovery.  Standing by him, as she promised “in sickness and in health,” is his wife of 16 years, Chasity. For this full-time teacher and mom, the day Allen came home, injured and anxious, her life was changed dramatically. She was thrust into a new, overwhelming role: caring 24/7 for her husband.

Chasity shares,

“He was injured by a IED blast and suffers from traumatic brain injury [TBI], post-traumatic stress [PTSD] and nerve damage to his hips and back. I help him with his daily activities but most of all I help him with time management and trying to keep his anxiety and anger levels low (not an easy job). I have devoted all my time as a full-time caregiver to my husband when he had a suicide attempt in 2010 after the sudden death of his father. The most challenging part of being a caregiver I would have to say is trying to juggle raising our two daughters and being able to attend all my husband’s VA appointments. The only help I get is from my mother. She lives 30 minutes away and is always there in a moment’s notice to help or just for me to get away for a breather (a.k.a. going to Walmart ... alone).”

Are you a family caregiver? Share your story 
and help us fight for family caregivers.


Military Caregivers
Out of the about 40 million Americans who care for parents, spouses and other loved ones, 5.5 million care for our veterans. Just like other family caregivers, these unsung heroes help with medication management, bathing and dressing, meals, driving to appointments and more. But they also help their loved ones with unique challenges, including PTSD, depression and traumatic brain injuries.

Bottom line: Family caregiving of any type — for your parents who are aging, children with a disability or a veteran battling injuries — isn’t easy and can be emotionally, physically and financially draining.

Family caregivers need support
Right now, we have a unique opportunity to take commonsense legislative steps at the federal level to support America’s family caregivers — unsung heroes like Chasity — and help make their big responsibilities a little bit easier.

Specifically, the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage Family Caregivers (RAISE) Act, which passed the U.S. Senate in 2015,  is being considered by the U.S. House. This bipartisan bill would create a national strategy to recognize and support family caregivers. AARP and 50 national organizations, including Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, have endorsed the RAISE Family Caregivers Act. Now it’s time to act.

This Memorial Day, as we honor the brave men and women who have given their lives to keep our country safe and free, I call for our nation to better support the unsung heroes, the family caregivers, who help keep our veterans — as well as older Americans and those with disabilities — living safely and independently in their homes and communities.

I urge you to contact your members of Congress and ask them to support America’s
greatest support system: family caregivers. Call 844-259-9351 today.


To all those who have served and to all their families — and family caregivers — I thank you. I wish you all a safe Memorial Day.

Resources for Family Caregivers

 


Nancy LeaMond, chief advocacy and engagement officer and executive vice president of AARP for community, state and national affairs, leads government relations, advocacy and public education for AARP’s social change agenda. LeaMond also has responsibility for AARP’s state operation, which includes offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

You can follow her on Twitter @NancyLeaMond.

Search AARP Blogs

Related Posts
December 11, 2018 10:07 AM
In an election year filled with partisanship and political fights, it’s no surprise that many Americans feel that their voices aren’t being heard or that the issues that affect their lives aren’t being addressed. But, many outstanding elected officials work hard every day to make a positive difference for their constituents.  That’s why AARP recognizes state legislators, governors, and other elected officials – from both sides of the aisle – who have stepped up and worked together to write, support, and advance common-sense policies that help older Americans remain in their homes and communities and retire with confidence. AARP is proud to announce our fifth annual bipartisan class of Capitol Caregivers, who fought this year to increase support for family caregivers and their loved ones, along with our fourth annual bipartisan class of Super Savers, who championed policies that enhance retirement security.
December 05, 2018 01:06 PM
Caroline is a mother of two children and a preschool teacher who unexpectedly became a family caregiver for her father after he suffered a major stroke. Her father, Tom, now deceased, lost the use of his right side and his ability to speak. Multiple surgeries and rehabilitation treatments later, he was able to live at home with the help of nurses. But it was up to Caroline to provide daily care, such as overseeing appointments and handling certain nursing responsibilities, like managing his medications. “I became the person my father could rely on more than anyone in the world,” Caroline said. “I became his safe place and his best friend.” In communities across the country, family caregivers like Caroline are caring for older parents, spouses and other loved ones, helping them to remain at home – where they want to be. Their tasks are done out of love and commitment, but are not easy. That’s why AARP is fighting for family caregivers and their loved ones in every state. In 2018, AARP advanced new policies to provide more help at home, flexibility at work, training, relief and more, which will benefit over 30 million family caregivers. Here are a couple highlights:
November 27, 2018 08:55 AM
A few months ago, I wrote a blog about the vital role that transportation options play in what we at AARP call “livable communities” – great places to live for people of all ages. Being able to get around is critical to earn a living, raise a family, contribute and stay connected to your community and enjoy life. And, having alternatives to getting behind the wheel of your own car is particularly important for older adults who want to stay in their homes and communities as they age.