Military Caregivers: Supporting the Unsung Heroes

Posted on Feb 27, 2018


Most women wear many different hats— we are wives, moms, employees, taxi drivers, educators, soccer moms, housekeepers, cooks, etc. As women, most of us also have the natural gift of multitasking and somehow, in addition to all of the hats we wear, the mundane tasks of the daily grind are also magically completed before our heads hit the pillow each night. If we’re lucky, we have help along the way from our husbands/partners, teachers, friends, mentors, and other members of our team of encouragers all rooting for our success. But what if your world is suddenly flipped upside down? What if you receive news that someone you care for tragically suffers from a wound, illness, or injury that will require long-term or possibly life-long care? What if, in addition to all of those hats and mundane tasks, you are also suddenly thrust into the position of providing full-time care to another adult? What if you don’t have that team of encouragers and this change leaves you to carry all the burdens of life alone?  This is the life of a military caregiver. And this group of incredibly strong women needs YOUR help!

Military caregivers are the unsung heroesWhile the focus of most veteran support programs is typically on the veteran member, the Women of Valor Team focuses solely on the female caregiver of the veteran to ensure they are pampered, loved, and given the necessary supportive materials to help them along their journey.  Soldiers’ Angels Team Angels on the Women of Valor (WOV) Team provide direct support and encouragement to caregivers of wounded, ill, or injured service members. 

March is Military Caregiver Appreciation Month here at Soldiers' Angels and we are looking to boost the amount of love we can provide to these remarkable women with the help of additional Angel volunteers.

Interested in learning more about supporting military caregivers? — Join the Women of Valor Email List Here

Since the beginning of the War on Terror shortly after 9/11/2001, thousands of service members have returned “Wounded In Action”. Many of them suffering blast injuries that left them without use of one or more extremities, if not a full amputation. According to the DOD Casualty Report, a total of 52,641 United States military service members have been wounded in action since the start of the Global War on Terror.* Sadly, that number does not include the number of veterans and military service members suffering from “invisible wounds” that include psychological, emotional and moral injuries.

The Women of Valor Team was started in 2014 near the end of Operation Enduring Freedom, which alone generated over 20,000 of the 52,631 wounded service members. Our organization recognized how great the need was to support the amazing women caring for America’s heroes— women who are often going through these incredibly difficult times with little to no support and encouragement. The Team has since grown and changed to best serve the caregivers receiving support through the program. The most recent change occurred on February 1st, 2018. Previously, Angels were asked to support one caregiver with a full year-long adoption, but now, Angels will be able to support multiple caregivers throughout the year with individual opportunities.  

The work of a military caregiver is a full-time job

 

Each caregiver in our Women of Valor program completes a detailed questionnaire provided by Soldiers’ Angels. The questionnaire identifies their individual preferences to be detailed in their opportunities. Team Angels will then support various caregivers throughout the year, maximizing the potential of loving numerous caregivers, instead of just one. 

 

Team Angels are required to provide a minimum of twelve (12) Angel “outreaches” a year (a minimum of one per month) separated into two categories: General Support and Specific Support.

General Support = Four (4) Quarterly Caregiver “Blessing Boxes” a year, one of which celebrates the Caregiver’s birthday. Each month, opportunities will be posted to send extra love to Caregivers that month. Some will be birthday opportunities, while others will be for additional encouragement. Angels will be able to choose the opportunity they are able to fulfill for that month. Each opportunity will be limited to a certain number of Team Angels. Examples for General Support include: send flowers, pamper packages, gift cards to favorite restaurants, etc. As a suggestion, these care packages may average $20/$25 each.

Specific Support = Eight (8) “Angel Hugs” on specified holidays. Example: send a card, or a small gift, just to let them know you are thinking of them. Below are the dates of significance throughout the year when Specific Support holiday opportunities will be created:

Dates of Significance:

St. Patrick’s Day                                                                Valentine’s Day

Military Caregiver Appreciation Month (March)                  Easter

4th of July                                                                           Thanksgiving

Christmas                                                                            Halloween

Ready to start supporting these remarkable women? Click here to become a TEAM ANGEL. Once you are registered as a Team Angel, you can select to support the Women of Valor Team. 

 

The ultimate goal with making this change to the Women of Valor Team is to ensure that all of the caregivers who are seeking support from Soldiers’ Angels receive that support routinely and are never left feeling unsupported. It is also the hope that by dividing up the responsibility, the program will have a greater reach and our Angels will be able to support even more caregivers.

If you have a heart to serve the caregivers of our wounded heroes who selflessly place their needs second to everyone and everything else, the Women of Valor Team is a great place to start your volunteer efforts. Learn more about Soldiers’ Angels Women of Valor Team here.

If you have additional questions about the new changes to the Women of Valor Team, please scroll down to see our FAQ section. You can also contact the Women of Valor Team Leader, Jessyca, for more information: jhilar@soldiersangels.org.

*Total number of Wounded in Action includes injuries from Operation Enduring Freedom (October 2001 – December 2014), Operation Iraqi Freedom (March 2003 – August 2010), Operation New Dawn (September 2010 – December 2011), Operation Inherent Resolve (October 2014 – present), and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (January 2015 – present).

Soldiers' Angels Women of Valor FAQ:

Q: Is there a limit to how many caregivers we can adopt?

A: No. You can request however many opportunities you wish to support each month, provided you meet the minimum team requirements, and are able to support and report each of them. *NOTE:  We would suggest spreading out your opportunities throughout the year to ensure all our caregivers are supported and so you are not overwhelmed.

Q:   Do you have to do the care packages only once a month, or if you are having a good family month yourself and have extra time or money, can you do more one month than the other?

A: The team requirement is to support 4 Blessing Boxes a year. If you feel like you can do more, and there are still opportunities on the board, yes. I would recommend waiting closer to the end of the month, just in case there are opportunities that haven’t been pick up yet, prior to the next month opportunities. Cards are sent on specific holidays as listed above.

Q: The cards.... can we include gift cards if we want?

A:  Yes, of course.

Q: When we do those cards, how many do we pick up to send to?

A:  Currently, we only have created (1) holiday-specific “Angel Hug” opportunity for each caregiver.  We have added (5) birthday Angel Hugs opportunities for each caregiver as well. As we recruit more Team Angels, we will increase the amount of opportunities for each caregiver.