#CaregivingHappens: Supporting Our Military Veterans

You might be a caregiver if you support a veteran in ways large and small, because #CaregivingHappens — sometimes when we don’t even realize it! 

From helping a veteran friend get to a doctor’s appointment to providing a little hands-on help, any support you provide means you are acting as a care partner. 

Sometimes, though, it can be difficult to know how to support or care for someone in our lives that needs a little extra TLC. That’s why, during National Family Caregivers Month and in honor of Veterans Day, we’ve compiled some ideas to support a veteran in your life.

So whether you’re a family member, spouse, friend or colleague to a veteran, here are some easy, cost-free ways to provide acts of care.

 

TIPS FOR PRIMARY AND SECONDARY CAREGIVERS

If you’re a primary or secondary caregiver to a veteran, your best source of information to support you in your efforts to improve the health and well-being of your veteran is the Veterans Administration. Likely, if you are aware of all the services the VA provides to you and your loved one, but just in case, here are some resources we believe can help guide you on your caregiving journey. 

 

VA’s Program for Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers

The Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers program is a one-stop-shop for caregivers of veterans and includes a list of assistance programs and services available to you. 

We strongly encourage you to reach out to your local VA for more information, too. Their Caregiver Support Program Teams are available at each VA Medical Center (VAMC) to help caregivers find the right support to meet their needs and to enroll in caregiver programs and services.

 

Self-care tools designed for veterans

A great way to give a little care to someone is to offer up some additional resources they may not have heard of before. We found a list of self-care activities designed for veterans that could be a great starting point to helping improve the health and well-being of someone you care about. Get the self-care activities list here

We find that “A Caregiver’s Journey to Self-Enrichment,” is a great guide. It’s a workbook intended to help a caregiver or veteran reacquaint themselves with the activities they enjoy most. Access the diary here.

 

TIPS FOR FRIENDS 

Offer a couple hours of respite care for a veteran’s primary caregiver

Many veterans in need of higher levels of care, such as those with physical or cognitive disabilities, have full-time family caregivers. These folks are often on the clock 24/7, making sure their loved one is safe and happy. These same folks often suffer from caregiver burnout, and even a few hours of respite care can mean the world to them. 

Offer to sit with the veteran so their primary caregiver can go run a few errands, get a massage or even just to get a good nap in. Not only does it give the caregiver some time off, but it gives you a chance to spend time with someone you care about. 

 

Make or send a meal to a veteran and their family

If a veteran in your life is going through a major life change, such as returning to civilian life or recovering from an illness or injury, a great act of caregiving is to provide meals to them and their family. 

Before you cook up a storm or buy a gift card, be sure to ask the veteran or their family if they have any food allergies or dietary needs so you don’t end up making or buying something they can’t eat. 

 

Donate to a veterans organization

If you have the financial means to offer a donation to a veterans organization, that’s a great way to show your support. It might not feel like an act of caregiving, but supporting organizations that provide care directly to veterans means you’re an advocate, which is in many ways just another way of giving your time, talents or treasure — something caregivers do all the time. Here is a list of veterans charities in North Dakota and Minnesota. 

Pro tip: If you can’t support a veterans organization financially, another way to get involved is to volunteer your time. Check with your nearest Veterans Administration office for opportunities in your area.

Happy Veterans Day!

Looking for more? Read the history of Veterans day

The Veterans Administration has a wonderful article detailing how Veterans Day came to be and how it’s evolved through the years. Check it out here.