SAN DIEGO, November 11, 2013 — Formerly known as Armistice Day, Veterans Day marks the end of World War I on November 11, 1918.
On September 20, 1975, the late President Gerald Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479) which permanently established November 11 as our Country’s national observance of Veterans Day.
In response to the devastating attack on the Twin Towers in New York on September 11, 2001, America engaged in the wars Operation Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and New Dawn.
Compared to earlier wars in American history, the human cost in terms of death toll and severity of injury of modern-day wars has significantly increased.
According to the Wounded Warrior Project, for every soldier killed in World War I and II, there were 1.7 soldiers wounded.
As opposed to estimates for the modern-day Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, which suggest that for each American serviceperson killed, there were 7 wounded.
Further, the Wounded Warrior Project estimates that Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom combined have caused over 48,000 soldiers to be severely wounded, oftentimes with multiple significant injuries, including loss of limbs.
According to a 2012 study conducted by the United States Census Bureau, there are 3.5 million United States veterans with a service connected disability. Additionally, they estimate that approximately 881,981 have a disability rating of 70 percent or higher, on a disability rating scale of 0 to 100 percent.
The Wounded Warrior Project also looked beyond the mere physical disability of injured servicemen and delved into the invisible wounds of war, estimating that approximately 400,000 of today’s servicepersons have combat-related stress, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and depression.
Moreover, they believe that approximately 320,000 servicepersons experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI) while on deployment.
The long-range health care, political, financial, and societal impact of the current wars will be felt by Americans for decades to come.
As this Nation steps-up to find solutions to physical health, mental health, and transitional support problems, including solutions like assistive devices and prosthetics, financial assistance, family assistance and more which may be required to help each wounded warrior return to what will constitute a normal life, it would be impossible to ignore the critical role of the family caregiver, and the inherent responsibility to address what resources are needed to support the people in that role.
Whether it’s a spouse, parent, grandparent, partner, or friend, there is a significant other who will shoulder the responsibility of caring for a wounded soldier struggling to recover.
Especially challenging in a family with children or other family members, the caregiver will take on the primary responsibility for coordinating day-to-day appointments, including health care and other types of providers and supports for the injured soldier. Additionally, the family caregiver will likely handle physical care while simultaneously maintaining stability and care of children, additional family members, general home environment, and a variety of other regular activities in order to maintain family life.
Though a labor of devotion, the family caregiver might eventually find that what is simultaneously occurring is the sacrifice of their own physical and mental health, which can often lead to burn-out.
President Barrack Obama’s March, 2013 Presidential Proclamation, National Family Caregivers Month 2013, focused on the challenges faced by family caregivers, while also acknowledging the real-life issues posed by caring for a wounded warrior: “There is no one to whom America owes more than our ill and injured service members and veterans, and while many offer kindness and assistance, it is the caregivers who truly sustain our wounded warriors as they work toward rehabilitation and recovery.”
Two out of five Americans, a staggering 39 percent of a largely adult population, are caring for a disabled person or ill loved one.
Approximately 1 million of the estimated 90 million family caregivers in America are caring for a wounded warrior from Iraqi or Afghanistan.
As we honor our Veterans this Veterans Day, whether those who are lost or those who remain, it is incumbent upon each of us to reflect upon the great sacrifices they made and the gift of freedom their brave service has engendered.
Throughout the month of November let us also give thanks and support to the one million family caregivers who are caring for a wounded warrior, in the hope that they find the inner strength to hold their families together.
For helpful information, education, resources, family caregiver support, and more, please contact:
The Wounded Warrior Project
Stand Up for Veterans
Southern Caregiver Resource Center of San Diego
Operation Family Caregiver
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is a health care provider of over 30 years. As a featured “Communities” columnist since 2011, LifeCycles with Laurie Edwards-Tate emphasizes healthy aging and maintaining independence, while delighting and informing its readers. Laurie is a recognized expert in home and community-based, long-term care services, and is also an educator.
In addition to writing for “Communities,” Laurie is the President and CEO of her firm, At Your Home Familycare, which serves persons of all ages who are disabled and infirm with a variety of non-medical, in-home care and concierge services.
Copyright © 2013 by At Your Home Familycare
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