Taking Care of Your Recovering Warrior
As a caregiver of a recovering service member or veteran, you will take on many new roles and responsibilities. Seasoned caregivers have designed this Toolkit with you in mind to give you advice and suggestions on staying organized, managing the learning curve, and making the most of your role on your service member’s medical team. As one military caregiver noted, “There are two types of support I need as a caregiver: one for me dealing with my spouse’s injury, and one for me dealing with me dealing with my spouse’s injury.”
"Discharge was scary. I was responsible for so many aspects of my husband’s care. It was a relief to know what to do when I had questions. It helped us avoid extra trips to the emergency room."
- Start a calendar devoted to your recovering warrior to keep track of the many appointments you both will need to attend.
- Keep a daily journal so you can record notes from appointments, conversations with health care professionals, and any other important information you were given that day.
- Maintain a medication log including dosages and restrictions.
- Arrange your paperwork and files to stay organized so you can easily locate them in the future. Some caregivers find it helpful to store documents online using free storage, such as Google Drive.
- Ask for help from volunteers and case managers when you become overloaded with information. They can organize documents and brief you on what’s important.
"I learned all that I could about PTSD and TBI so that I could understand as best I could what my husband was going through. Once I did that, I could then intellectually understand that his outbursts and emotional distance from me were all symptoms of his conditions. All of this helped me to be a better caregiver and got me off the roller coaster of emotions."
- Ask other caregivers where they found information on the medical condition affecting their service member.
- Take the lead in advocating for your service member and your family.
- Call MilitaryOneSource and identify yourself as a wounded warrior family member. Their specialty consultants can answer questions, make referrals, or create a 96-hour plan of action to help you resolve your issue.
- Develop a list of resources who can answer questions about your service member’s condition. Get phone numbers and email addresses for all potential contacts.
- Understand the appropriate steps to take if there’s a problem or you have questions about your service member’s condition after discharge from the hospital.
Become Part of the Medical Care Team
"I had never had an injured husband before and I’m not in the Army. I didn’t know what questions I should ask. Whenever I didn’t understand, I would always say 'Please tell me more.' It keeps the doctor talking, allowing you get to more information."
- Attend medical appointments for your service member whenever you have the opportunity.
- Learn how to ask questions, even if you don’t know what to ask. Saying, “please tell me more” Helps draw out details you may not have otherwise found. To be a part of the team, you need to understand what’s happening with your service member’s condition and care.
- Recruit a friend or family member to attend medical appointments with you and take notes while you listen. Having an extra set of ears will ensure that you don’t miss important information.You can talk with each other about the appointment afterwards and journal any questions for the next appointment.
- Get a direct phone number to the nurse’s station – especially if your service member has spent a significant amount of time in the hospital. The nurses who cared for your service member are an excellent source of information after discharge.
- Don’t be intimidated by medical jargon. If you don’t understand something from the medical team, ask questions until you do. It can be overwhelming to receive so much information all at once, but the more you know the better you’ll be able to help the team caring for your service member.