5 Ways you are a Caregiver of a Veteran

Your day starts out by waking up the kids, making breakfast, preparing school lunches, checking the clock literally every 2 minutes to make sure no one is running late, waking up your Vet (or at least attempting to do so), feeding the dogs (otherwise they will follow your every move and stare at you with those big brown puppy-dog eyes that just melt your heart), making sure everyone is dressed, brushing their teeth, etc.

And somewhere in between all that chaos you are just trying to make yourself a cup of coffee!

caregiver, veteran, spouse

However, you are FAR from being able to take a break and a deep breath before you go off to work or perhaps send your Vet off to work or school; because you are just getting started with trying to navigate through the day and accomplishing everything that is on your To-Do list without absolutely loosing your mind and breaking down in front of your Vet!

Sound familiar?

Now many would argue that other mothers and fathers in this country go through the same routine every morning and they are not considered Caregivers (CG). They are mothers and fathers with responsibilities, right? I get that, totally! HOWEVER, there are so many other factors that go into being a Caregiver, especially a CG for a military Vet.

But how do you know that you are Caregiver?

Here is a list of 5 Ways you are a Caregiver.
1) You make the phone calls

Has your Vet called (…and called…and called…) the VA to set up appointments, receive information regarding different programs, contact their PCP or specialist just to be wait-listed, ignored or spoken to like a child?

Uhm, no! That ain’t happening!

So you decide to take charge and call the VA to set up appointments to establish care and get the treatments he/she needs.

You decide to take charge and call to receive information regarding a program.

You decide to take charge and contact the Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) or Medical Center to forward your Vet’s PCP or specialist a message in regards to his/her health.

You decide to take charge and make sure the person you are speaking to understands that you will NOT be ignored, wait-listed or spoken to like you are a child and that your Vet DESERVES and NEEDS these services.

You ARE a Caregiver.

2) You sacrifice work time to accommodate for your Veteran’s appointments

Having a job or one’s own career is a very important part of one’s self-identity. However, many of us who have been associated with the military for so long also know that having a career can be a luxury that many of us don’t necessarily get to enjoy or pursue until later. There are new duty stations every couple of years, certain (sometimes unspoken) responsibilities we have as military spouses, those pesky deployments, and so on. All of this can hinder any and all possibilities of establishing a career.

Well at least now that my Vet is out of the military I can start my own thing, right?

Mmmmhhh…technically yes, if it weren’t for the gazillion appointments the VA gives your Vet to establish care, get treatment and participate in programs that are available to them! That is, once you are able to get those appointments.

So now that all of these appointments are set up (thanks to your being consistent and calling the VA on behalf of your Vet) you accompany your him/her to those appointments. All because your Vet doesn’t trust any of the VA employees and would like nothing more than to be left alone. But in order to get the disability services they NEED and DESERVE, they have to go to many of these appointments. So, you take it upon yourself to take your Vet and accompany them; come Hell or High water.

Therefore, for those of us who do have a job or an established career, accompanying our Vet to their appointments often times means that we need to sacrifice work time in order to do so.

You ARE a Caregiver.

3) You quit your job or placed your career on hold

While sacrificing work time to accompany your Vet to their appointments is an important factor in determining whether you are a CG or not, so are many other factors.

Depending on the severity of your Vet’s injuries, treatments in a clinical setting and at home are often times needed.

Do you massage or rub your Vet’s back, knee, shoulder, etc.?

Do you change dressings, bandages, etc.?

Do you help them get dressed on the days their pain is a 20 on a scale of 1-10?

Do you adjust your daily activities to accommodate for the care you provide?

Has your support inadvertently caused you to quit your job or place your career on hold?

You ARE a Caregiver.

4) You worry about your Vet’s well-being

It is in our nature to worry about our significant other, family member or friend. However, for many of us who are married to military Veterans or have close relationships with a family member or friend who was in the military, this worry goes beyond that of what some might consider “normal.”

We worry day and night about their general well-being in addition to the injuries they have obtained while in the service.

We worry about the medications they take, the medications they need but don’t always have access to, the treatments they need but don’t always have access to.

We worry about them not wanting to seek treatment, not being ready to do a certain kind of treatment.

We worry about them reminiscing about the ‘good ol’ days.’

We worry about July 4th and New Year’s and fireworks.

We worry about how the civilian world will treat them.

We worry about how they will adjust to the civilian world.

We worry about them worrying about us.

We worry, and worry and worry about them; all day, every day.

Sound familiar?

You ARE a Caregiver.

5) You have sacrificed “me-time”

Me-time.

Let that sink in for a second.

Being a mother I naturally say that I don’t have any me-time, because I am a mother and I believe many other mothers would agree with me and understand this statement. However, being a Caregiver puts a whole different meaning to me-time. I don’t remember the last time I was able to sit down, have a glass of wine and watch Grey’s Anatomy, How to get away with murder, Ghost Asylum, A Haunting (I am a sucker for Ghost and supernatural shows by the way) or any other show I might be interested in.

I simply don’t remember.

Although, I have made an effort to improve my own well-being (which is a different story, so stay tuned) it has taken me 8+ years to do so.

Me-time.

If you don’t remember the last time you were able to truly do something for YOURSELF, something that makes you go “Ahhh, this is nice,” or something that allows you to look at yourself in the mirror and smile (even if it’s just for a couple of seconds) then:

You ARE a Caregiver.

Having said all of this about being a Caregiver, it seems that it is all just doom and gloom. It is difficult, maddening, exhausting and tiring; however, many aspects of care-giving are wonderful. I will try to show you that it’s not all doom and gloom. I hope you will find the sunshine and harbor it!

Share this post with other caregivers you know! Let them know, they are not alone.

Disclaimer: Everything I share is solely based on my personal experience and is for informational purposes only. This page contains affiliate links. For more information, please view my disclosure policy.


 

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