Care for the Caregiver

A caregiver may be a spouse, parent, significant other, another family member, or friend. You may or may not be eligible for caregiver benefits from the DoD or the VA; however, you are still entrusted with caring for your wounded, ill, or injured service member. 

Caregivers may face new challenges, such as the service member suffering from Combat Operational Stress Disorder, mild to moderate Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The caregiver’s role may never end, especially when there is a long-term injury, wound, or illness involved.

It is extremely important that caregivers take time for themselves, to unwind and recharge. Be sure to ask for support if you need some help. Many caregivers find it helpful to hear from other caregivers. Be sure to download a copy of our Tips from Caregivers to Caregivers. Resources may be available through the service member’s or veteran’s Service, the Department of Defense or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, or in your local community.  Some examples are included below.

Vet Counseling Center

Vet Counseling Centers provide readjustment counseling and outreach services free of charge to all veterans who served in any combat zone. Services are also available for their family members for military related issues. The VA operates 232 community based Vet Counseling Centers in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. 

VA Family Services

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a wide variety of support services for families of veterans. The VA is focusing on four domains: Family Psychoeducation/Marital and Family Counseling; Education; Prevention/Family Resilience; and Consultation.

The VA offers Family Psychoeducation/Marital and Family Counseling for families of veterans. Under this program, the VA is currently providing: Integrative Behavioral Couples Therapy; Behavioral Couples Therapy for Substance Use; Cognitive-behavioral Couples Therapy with PTSD; and Behavioral Family Therapy for Serious Psychiatric Disorders.  

These Family Education programs provide a set of techniques to provide you with information needed to support the veteran’s recovery and work effectively with the veteran’s VA treatment team. Under the Education program, the VA is offering: Support and Family Education (SAFE), Nami Family-to-Family Education Program (FFEP), Operation Enduring Freedom, and the Talk Listen Connect Sesame Street Program.

Under Prevention/Family Resilience the VA is currently piloting Moving Forward to include a fifth session called “Power of Two.” This new session will teach the partner/family member to coach the veteran into moving forward.Under the “Consultation” for families of veterans program, the VA is including Veteran Centered Brief Family Consultation (VCBFC). VCBFC provides families of veterans with brief family consultation, usually for one to five sessions, to help resolve specific issues related to the veteran’s treatment and recovery. 

These services may not be available at all VA medical centers. Check with your local VA medical center to see what they offer. 

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