I was supposed to attend a caregiver's meet and greet at the #VA today. It will be the first one our CSC and VA is facilitating and I was looking forward to attending, meeting other caregivers in the area (although we're an hours drive away), and being able to give some feedback. It's a 3 hour get together, great! The tricky part about that is, it specifically said not to bring the Veteran. Ok, I completely understand why. I get that it's so so important for us (caregivers) to be able to openly discuss our lives, struggles, successes, whatever without having to worry about filters in front of the guys we care for. Totally understand. Buuut, we live an hour away. An hour there, 3 hours in the meeting, an hour back. That's five hours (non-VA math) that I will be gone. I can't even make a fifteen minute trip to the grocery store alone most days! So while I'm super grateful for the opportunity, I need to pass if there's not something like a group or activity to keep him occupied at the same time. (Plus it wouldn't be a terrible idea for the guys to have a get together at the same time so they could find a local battle buddy or two)
I think moving forward, this is something the #NewVA should take in to account. Caregivers are here to support our Veterans. We want to do the best we can, but we need adequate support for ourselves such as having this meet and greet and being able to find connections and friends to build a support system who 'gets it' that takes into account some of our daily struggles instead of adding another.
Today the local #VA is holding an event in honor of National Caregiver Month. I would soooo love to be there, but I'm not. I couldn't go because it fell on the same day at the same time as my four year olds weekly gymnastics class at a local cafe who has kids activities. Unlike families without a disabled veteran there was no bother option. My husband couldn't take her while I went to the event because he can't drive. I also couldn't drop them both off and go to the VA. For one, he did not sleep well, yet again. He is too exhausted to even walk up the stairs without the fear of falling. He's at home hoping to catch a nap which probably won't happen. This has been going on for months now (with his sleep issues going on for 9 YEARS and they are STILL UNDIAGNOSED! But that is an issue for another letter). Even if my husband could come with us today, I couldn't leave him here alone. There is a mom group who come to the cafe and they bring upwards of 20 women, not including their kids. It becomes you crowded and his anxiety and anger will shoot through the roof. He can't drive so he has no way to leave if that happens, no escape. So again that's by an option.
By now you might be thinking, "why doesn't her kid miss a class just this once?" Well I'll tell you why. Because of my husband's problems which include but are not limited to herniated discs, low back and sciatic nerve pain, migraines, sleep problems & daytime sleepiness, anxiety, and depression we don't get out much. This means our daughter has limited interaction with the outside world let alone kids her own age. Gymnastics and other outing to this cafe is the only time she gets to play with kids her own age and I refuse to take that away from her. She so desperately wants others to play with and today she gets that chance. She gets the chance to make friends, socialize, and use up all that energy a 4 year old has.
I really wanted to meet some other caregivers in then area. I wanted to make in person friends. But I didn't want to do that at the expense of my daughter.
You see, not only are the caregivers of veterans affected by their injuries and illnesses, but so are their families; their children. So far the plans for the #NewVA leave us out. They leave out the caregivers. They leave out the families. They leave out the children. These injuries and illnesses out veterans experience do not occur in a vacuum. Those who love, live with, and care for a veteran are affected as well. Even the kids care for their veterans. My daughter will pick up my husband's cane when he drops it, snuggle him when he feels tired, and kisses his "owies" on bad pain days. It might not seem like much but she shows him that despite his disabilities he is loved and that does wonders for his mood and makes the pain he feels daily a little more bearable.
So please #NewVA, don't forget our little caregivers, our little families in your new plan.
Do people really... really not realize that unless their wives have good jobs, that many of our heros do without?
That many who came home injured can't work? And that even those that can often can't work to the capacity that they might have been able to?
That even when they are enlisted that they qualify for food stamps? Do people REALLY think that we are taking care of our Veterans the way we should?
Is the fact that our citizens aren't outraged just a misunderstanding?