Military caregivers serve our country too. They are the spouses and family members who care for our wounded, injured or ill service members, and they deserve our community support. As part of the Joining Forces Initiative, former First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden urge Americans to support the nationwide work of military caregivers. Statistics show that our military caregivers who are supporting our:
- Post-9/11 generation of veterans, total about 1.1 million
- Veterans from all generations, total about 5.5 million
To fulfill this need for caregiver support, the Department of Defense developed the Caregiver Peer-to-Peer Support Initiative. The initiative includes the following, free avenues of support:
- Military Caregiver PEER Forum Initiative — The PEER stands for Personalized Experiences, Engagement and Resources, and these PEER forums provide the opportunity for caregivers to share knowledge, expertise, resources and ongoing support for each other.
- Caregiver Resource Directory — This handy directory places all kinds of information at the caregiver's fingertips. From respite care (to give the caregiver a day off) to children's needs, from advocacy and benefit information to career and education opportunities, financial support information and much more, this directory covers it all.
- Monthly Military Caregiver PEER Virtual Forums — Caregivers who cannot attend the in-person PEER forums have another option. Once you click on the link in this bullet, you'll find a registration link for caregivers who would like to join these monthly forums virtually.
- Military Caregiver webinars — The Military Families Learning Network and Military OneSource offer webinars that provide a wide variety of information about being a caregiver.
- Events and specialized resources — Check out this Military OneSource flier and DoD Warrior Care Blog website for more information about the Military Caregiver PEER Forums and caregiver webinars and events.
Benefits of peer-to-peer forums
Caregivers can directly help each other in ways no other program or professional can. Caregivers can provide advice that is:
- Based on real-life experience
Military and family life counselors at Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force installations work with recovery care coordinators to organize and conduct voluntary peer-to-peer forums to provide confidential, non-medical counseling to caregivers. These peer-to-peer forums positively impact caregivers’ quality of life by:
- Reducing stress (by improving stress management)
- Providing emotional support (with referrals to counseling services as needed)
- Presenting unique resources with valuable information (for caregivers)
Caregivers have these resources to help them through the tough times and to keep life on track as they begin to get used to their new “normal.” Knowing when to ask for help can be the trickier part. Caregivers are compassionate and mentally tough, but even the toughest people need to seek assistance from time to time. Ask for help. Let your community support you as you are supporting your service member.