Caring for the Caregivers

To honor the Month of the Military Caregiver, the CVN Blog will run two posts from clinic directors around the network on this very important population. Our Cohen Clinics will see caregivers regardless of whether the veteran is in treatment. Part two will run next week.

 

When a service member serves, the whole family serves as well. The visible and invisible wounds of war affect not only the veteran but his or her loved ones. Caregivers are particularly vulnerable as they often endure a lot of stress by taking on multiple responsibilities, juggling appointments, negotiating various roles, and taking care of the medical or psychological needs of the veteran.

i wenWhile their strength and resilience are unquestionable, they are not immune to the effects of stress and often suffer in silence. A survey conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving (2010) found that the caregivers of veterans who have PTSD, TBI, and other mental health concerns are at particularly high risk for health and emotional concerns, feelings of isolation, financial and marriage difficulties and other problems. The caretakers’ needs are often left unaddressed as they might feel that their own needs are not as important, that they don’t have time or energy to take care of themselves, or they simply don’t know where to go for help.

Here at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at NYU Langone Medical Center we are acutely aware of the unique and often unmet needs of the caregivers and provide them with much needed support. We welcome all family members, whether or not the veteran him/herself is in treatment at the clinic, and offer them individual, family, group, and/or couples counseling, medication management, and other services if needed. By supporting the caregivers, we strengthen the family as a whole, and as a result facilitate better care for the veteran.

By Irina Wen, PhD
Clinic Director, Clinical Psychologist
Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at NYU Langone Medical Center