By Debbie Gregory.
Almost 6 million American parents, spouses, children, other family members and friends care for military servicemembers and veterans who have been wounded, injured, or are ill. Many of these “hidden heroes” find that their role as a caregiver can impose a substantial physical, emotional and financial toll. Many caregivers have to set aside their own career and life goals to provide the needed care and, unlike professionals, they usually provide this care without compensation and often without sufficient knowledge of, or access to, available resources or a support network.
These caregivers are often overwhelmed, facing challenges that include isolation, poor health and emotional stress. The Military and Veteran Caregiver Peer Support Network (MVCN) offers peer-based support and services to connect caregivers with their peers for support and help accessing the resources of partner organizations. This support helps increase their wellness, knowledge and skills.
The Network is comprised of hundreds of partner organizations. Modeled after the nationally recognized, evidence-based programs of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) MVCN’s mission is to reduce caregiver isolation and increase their sense of connection, engagement and hopefulness.
The MVCN helps caregivers at all stages of their caring through three consistent highest-quality peer support programs and relevant up-to-date educational information and resources, including an online peer support community, community-based peer support groups, and peer mentors.
The MVCN also publishes a quarterly magazine called “We Care.” The magazine features caregiver stories, Caregiver Partners, KidsCare, , a Q&A called “Dear WeCare”, and Caregiver News.
MVCN’s Community-Based Peer Support Groups are led by trained caregiver facilitators, with many local groups. They provide a secure, confidential place for caregivers to gather, to exchange experiences, empathy, education and encouragement.
These Community-Based Peer Support Groups offer an opportunity to share the issues, concerns and needs faced by caregivers.