Helping Wounded Veterans and Their Caregivers Find Support and Healing
There is a consequence of war so huge and powerful that it can envelop a veteran’s entire life and dreams, upending his or her family’s lives as well. The internal anguish of post-traumatic stress and brain injury doesn’t always show on the outside. But it can be as difficult and frustrating – to both veterans and caregivers – as physical battle injuries, simmering relentlessly for decades and sometimes exploding at unexpected times.
And yet, it’s the smallest and simplest of gestures – a supportive text message, a listening ear on the phone, or tracking down a hard-to-find phone number that leads to new therapy or financial assistance that can do so much.
Joey Caswell completely gets this. She’s being honored with the Daily Point of Light Award not because she runs a nationwide, million-dollar charity, but because she reaches out – moment by moment, phone call by phone call, message by message – to help disabled veterans like her husband, as well as military caregivers grasping for straws of help and advice.
Joey’s husband, Charles, was wounded by an IED blast in Iraq in 2005. Although he looks healthy now on the outside – and he has all of his limbs – he’s considered 100 percent disabled by the military. The blast caused permanent brain injuries that affect his memory and judgement. His post-traumatic stress affects his mood and behavior.
After he was medically retired from the Army, the couple returned to a small town in their home state of Michigan, where, Joey said, “we felt alone with no support or help.”
“Charlie struggled with life in general,” she said. “Things got rough and rocky between us and our marriage and daily life. I was just not understanding what was going on and how to help him.”
Military caregivers – there are nearly 5.5. million in the United States – are hidden heroes, serving in a role that receives little recognition and acknowledgement. Being a caregiver can affect an individual’s health, relationships and career, and many in this role face their own emotional, physical and mental challenges.