New partnerships aim to connect military caregivers with support

Updated: Jun. 5, 2020 at 10:37 AM EDT
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AMERICUS, Ga. (WALB) - Loved ones of military members and veterans now have new ways to learn to take care of themselves.

The Rosalynn Carter Institute (RCI) for Caregiving in Americus announced three new partnerships with organizations to help military caregivers.

"People who haven't served, regardless of their intentions, they don't really know what happens when your loved one comes home from war," said caregiver Deidre Blascyk, who also serves as a coach for fellow caregivers through the RCI's program called "Operation Family Caregiver" (OFC).

Blascyk described many struggles military caregivers face, including managing finances, appointments and medications for those veterans or military members they serve.

"We are on call 24/7," she explained. "If you can name it, it's a job that we do as a caregiver."

Now, Blascyk and RCI executive director Jennifer Olsen said they hope the OFC's new partnerships will provide some much-needed support for military caregivers across the country.

Deidre Blascyk - Caregiver and Coach with RCI's Operation Family Caregiver program
Deidre Blascyk - Caregiver and Coach with RCI's Operation Family Caregiver program(WALB)

"A lot of the challenges caregivers face are tied to self care - something everyone's grapples with, especially during this time of COVID," Olsen said. "Making sure to sleep well, eat well, take a break from life's challenges."

Olsen said the institute's OFC program provides free virtual coaching for military caregivers across the nation.

Now, OFC has partnered with three organizations: Caregivers on the Homefront, RallyPoint and the American Red Cross Military and Veteran Caregiver Network (MVCN).

"Caregivers need connection they need some support and they need to think about problem solving in new and different ways," Olsen explained.

Each of these organizations link military caregivers together with other people in their shoes.

According to the RCI, Caregivers on the Homefront provides in-person and online support groups along with educational workshops and mental health and wellness restorative weekends for caregivers of veterans and active servicemembers.

RallyPoint is an online network that allows people to seek support from their peers any time of day.

The MVCN also has an online community to make way for peer support, to reduce social isolation among military caregivers.

"Often I think caregivers are the hidden heroes, the ones behind the veteran that we all can salute and support," Olsen explained.

According to Olsen, the goal is to make sure these caregivers are taking care of their own well-being so that they can care for their military member or veteran in the best way possible.

To learn more about Operation Family Caregiver, click here.

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