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Supporting Caregivers As They Support
Our Veterans

By Kristine Dwyer, Staff Writer

(Page 4 of 6)

Community Support is Priceless:

Fostering community support for veterans and military families is essential to their readjustment and stability. If the community is committed to helping and supporting them, the period of readjustment will be more successful. This support can take many forms, and state governments and citizens across the nation are proposing new initiatives and partnerships to help speed up and expand services to veterans and their families. 
The Minnesota National Guard, for example, has been heralded for a program that hopes to change how soldiers and airmen are reconnected to their families and communities. “Beyond the Yellow Ribbon” is named as a reminder that the support of soldiers and their families must not end when they return from their deployment and the yellow ribbons are removed. The program offers a roadmap of important steps to take care of the soldier’s physical and emotional health, personal business/benefits, health, education, legal issues, employment, and family needs including marriage enrichment and parenting.
Chaplain Major John Morris of the Minnesota “Beyond the Yellow Ribbon” campaign made this analogy.  “Going into combat is a little like canoeing across the lake of life. When you leave for war, it’s like standing up in the canoe and upsetting the balance of family life. While you’re gone, your family takes over the paddling and tries to survive. When you return, you climb back into the canoe, and flip it, swamping it. Many families have been faced with bailing out that canoe, and they suffer extreme duress over something they thought would be joyful. A lot of families can become exhausted from paddling that canoe through life.” 
Chaplain Morris encourages returning veterans to seek whatever help they need to make a successful adjustment back into their families, relationships and community lives. 
Another example is a program developed by Mary Pawlenty, wife of former Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, called the “Military Family Care Initiative.” She has brought together service groups, community organizations and faith-based groups throughout the state, all of whom have expressed a strong desire to provide a wide selection of volunteer services to military families. A simple task like mowing the grass, assisting with chores or preparing a meal can go a long way toward helping a family in their time of need. 
“Homes for our Troops” (part of the Defense Department’s “America Supports You” program) is yet another option available to wounded service members and their families. The program builds or remodels homes (at no cost) to accommodate the specific needs of the severely wounded soldiers who are returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. Their goal is to adapt, build and remove obstacles in the homes to meet the needs of a veteran who is in a wheelchair or who faces injuries that hinder mobility. The organization provides services specifically to troops who are double amputees, paraplegic, quadriplegic, have severe post-traumatic stress disorder, or are severely burned. “Homes for Our Troops” has successfully partnered with the communities where veterans live to help fund the projects by holding benefits/fundraisers, donating materials and utilizing local professionals.


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