uly is a wonderful time of year. There is a gentle simplicity in the air, the smell of hot dogs on the grill, our American flag flying strong and proud, fireworks and mom’s apple pie — this warmth and hospitality especially ring true in our caring community. In fact, one of the things I love about Sheridan is it is filled with people who give their time for others, and the best examples of that from my perspective are caregivers — men and women who provide for the needs of someone in their life who can’t do so on his or her own.
I’ve come to appreciate these individuals because of my role in the Caregiver Support Program with the Sheridan Veterans Affairs Health Care System — I have been serving veterans here as a registered nurse for more than 14 years, and for the last five years I have been serving those who I call the “silent warriors” too. These silent warriors are the spouses, parents, sons, daughters, partners or friends that unselfishly provide nurturing care to our men and women who have come home with injuries (whether wounds are visible or not) acquired during their service to our nation.
Caregivers I interact with support our veterans, but there are many caregivers in the community who also deserve recognition. These silent warriors are men and women who have similarly found themselves in a role they may not have felt ready for but stepped up anyway to provide much-needed support.
Caregivers for both veterans and non-veterans come from places of love. In the VA, I’ve seen a daughter of a Pearl Harbor survivor who first tended to her father’s needs remotely then supported him in-person in the latter part of his life; a mother of an OEF/OIF veteran who ensures her son is taking medication to head off suicidal thoughts; and a spouse who cares for someone changed by three deployments, returning home dependent on the caregiver because of short-term memory loss and confusion. Caregivers in our community may not care for someone who faced the same situations as our veterans, but they do an immense job supporting men and women with similar physical or mental health issues. I salute those individuals for an equally difficult role and am proud to know there are resources in our community to support them.
If you are a caregiver, please check into what our community has to offer for resources. The National Family Caregiver Support Program is active in our area at The Hub on Smith and a great option to utilize. I’ve witnessed firsthand how much difference it can make for a caregiver to have a network of support — it helps you and the person for whom you’re caring.
If you know someone who is a caregiver, please help him or her find those resources or (if possible) offer your support — their health and wellbeing are at stake.
Michele R. Pourier, RN, is the caregiver support coordinator for the Sheridan Veterans Affairs Health Care System.