As part of the Joining Forces Initiative, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden urge Americans to support the nationwide work of military caregivers. You can read their op-ed on the need for caregiver support on the U.S. Department of Defense News page. We recognize that we can do more to support the estimated 5.5 million military caregivers in our country, including 1.1 million caregivers who support our newest generation of post-9/11 veterans.
To fulfill this need for caregiver support, the Department of Defense is rolling out a new Caregiver Peer-to-Peer Support Initiative. Currently, military and family life counselors provide face-to-face, confidential, non-medical counseling to service and family members, including caregivers. As part of the initiative, beginning in 2014, military and family life counselors at Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force installations with recovery care coordinators will organize and conduct voluntary peer-to-peer forums to provide confidential, non-medical counseling to caregivers. Military caregivers will help build the program by providing input on areas they would like to focus on such as mental wellness, managing stress and nutrition.
For military caregivers who do not live near a military installation or are unable to attend a local group forum, military caregiver peer support webinars will be held through Military OneSource. These forums can positively impact caregivers' quality of life by reducing stress and providing emotional support and a unique resource for valuable information. A community of caregivers can directly help each other in ways no other program or professional can. Caregivers can provide practical, accurate and thorough advice based on real life experience.
You can see the First Lady discuss the need for this initiative on The Pentagon Channel. Check Military OneSource for more information on this important initiative, as we will be providing more details as they become available.