by Dennis Townsend, Contributing Writer
When we send our troops off to war, we expect a lot of casualties, and even though we hate the violence and the thoughts of losing a loved one, it is the nature of the beast. And the soldiers that are not killed, are often faced with the reality of coming home mentally or phisically disabled. That is very traumatic change of life situation for the soldier for sure, and when they get back, someone is going to have to cater to his or her every need. Depending on the severity of the disability, they may require constant care, and someone to not only keep their spirits up, but to also help them to do task that we ourselves take for granted each and every day.
That person has been given the official name, “caregiver”, and nine times out of ten, it’s a spouse who, when they took their wedding vow “in sickness and in health”, had no clue that they would be taking on an unforseen burden of an unimaginable magnitude. The caregiver must not only keep the person that they love so dear encouraged, but must also do the same for themselves. Sometimes it requires long hours of trying to run the household, and then making sure their “hero” has everything they need including medicines, getting them to physical therapy, and taking care of the children if they have any. The strain on someone doing all these things is enough to bring the strongest person to their knees, but these caregivers "soldier" on, and often spend many a night awash in tears that have waited all day to fall.
With about 28% having no healthcare for themselves, and another 40% suffering from severe depression, the possibility of a nervous breakdown looms like goliath waiting to pounce on the caregiver. And they know that if they give up for a minute, the possibility of complete failure would become all to real. There are very few organizations that offer solace to the caregiver, and the Disable American Veterans Association can only do so much with the donations that they collect, that's why they have enlisted the help of private citizens to help with this crisis. One such person is the wife of a true hero, and her name is Elizabeth Dole. For those of you who don’t know her, she is the wife of former Senator Bob Dole who himself was tragically wounded during the war with Germany, and carries the battle scars to this day. So Mrs. Dole herself understands the burdens of the caregiver, and has started an organization, The Elizabeth Dole Foundation, to provide help to those with the task of keeping the familes of the disabled veterans together and functioning.
While we pay our utmost respects to our returning heroes, let us not for one minute forget the hero behind the disabled hero who unselfeshly let the person that meant the world to them go off and put themselves in harms way so that we could be free. If you know of any organization that is geared to help the caregivers, or if you know of someone taking care of a disabled veteran, offer what help you can, for they should be given the “Medal Of Honor” for all they do, and always remember to keep a disabled veteran in your prayers.
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