The caregivers of our warriors who serve too! Who picks up the fight when our heroes come home?

by | May 12, 2014

Hidden Heroes…  Click on this powerful video clip from ABC News! 1.1 million caregivers volunteer and are at risk of their own anxiety and depression…secondary PTS… From ABC News…


Elizabeth Dole, “Hidden Heroes”

Elizabeth Dole Foundation…  Quote from Elizabeth Dole…

5.5 Million Reasons to Support Military and Veteran Caregivers by Senator Elizabeth Dole

“As I reflect on the national conversation we have initiated about military and veteran caregiving, one number continues to ring out in my mind – 5.5 million. The RAND Corporation report my Foundation commissioned revealed that 5.5 million Americans are caring for ill or wounded service members and veterans. When I first heard the figure, it astounded me. To think that so many loved ones have been quietly caring for those who have cared for us…


When I was growing up as a post WWII and Korean War military child, the term “veteran caregiver” was not used nor would the significance or implications be understood.  Caregiving was something you heard about in nursing homes or hospitals, not at home.  Who would ever think that a WWII hero like my father Vernon, who was training boots at the US Naval Training Center in San Diego in 1948, needed a “caregiver.”  Not a chance!  But in reality my Dad, like thousands of combat veterans from that time, needed lots of help inside and outside of the home.  As a family we were the caregivers at home by default, so to speak.  My oldest brother, Jerry, as an example became very much part of the family caregiving team along with Mom.  He didn’t ask for it, he had no choice…  And we were all affected by the emotional turmoil of my father’s suffering following WWII and the Korean War.

We siblings knew something was out of sorts in our home, but didn’t really understand, so the toxic behavior and struggles as a family were thought to be normal and private…not a word to anyone outside of the home!  So we moved forward one day at a time as a family, fearing what each day would bring.  It was a blessing for us to get away from home for school and play.  We hated to return!  When we did return, hiding out in our room, in the basement, or outside close to home when the weather permitted, felt safer.  We wanted to stay clear of Dad because he was always angry…  The sad part is we took all the emotional baggage with us well into adult life, and needed “caregivers” as the next generation of trauma victims.  Reference the “Trauma-Informed Caregiver Practice Guide.”

I am now very encouraged that all the awareness about the needs of the children and families of veterans and those who served in combat is creating a new culture of sensitivity in America and around the globe.  Caregiving is no longer a word that belongs to a nurse or doctor in a facility outside of the home.  The stigma of mental health will someday be a thing of the past, probably not in my lifetime.  What I do see happening, and participate in my own work as an author and blogger, is heartwarming.  I have peace of mind now with clear understanding of my own past living in a toxic home following WWII.  I am also convinced that the momentum of the new “caregiving” culture for our heroes is taking hold.  The “suck up” mentality and “go home and forget about it” coaching from the military is over.

I am especially grateful that the conversation and the work of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation includes the children and families, the primary caregivers of warriors, who served America too…long after the wars of our time are over.  The war clearly comes home to the military families to begin another fight to bring peace of mind back into the hearts and souls of the loved ones who served on the battlefield or at sea fighting to protect our freedoms.

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1 and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my books, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1… (Kindle $2.99), and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author


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About the author

Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.
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