November is National Caregivers Month. This month, along with honoring veterans and service members, we recognize our military caregivers, who humbly serve our heroes long after combat ends.
At Hope For The Warriors®, we know how much caregivers give back. We also know the toll their service takes on them. Caregivers are at increased risk of physical and psychological challenges due to chronic stress. That’s why we’ve been caring for caregivers of post-9/11 service members and veterans since we opened our doors in 2006.
HOPE and Healing
Sarah is a military caregiver who Hope For the Warriors® is helping find her own voice and healing through art. Here is her story, in her own words.
In 2014, thanks in part to the Spouse/Caregiver Scholarship I received from Hope For The Warriors®, I entered a Master of Fine Arts program. I noticed the artists I admired most were pursuing something they were deeply passionate about, and I was inspired to do the same.
I began exploring a very difficult subject matter for me: being an angry Army wife. There were many factors making my life difficult and I felt I couldn’t do anything about them. What I didn’t know then was that my husband was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and I was developing Secondary Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Secondary PTSD). My husband spent years struggling to get help because his injuries, both mental and physical, were invisible. When we couldn’t get the help we needed, we felt powerless and angry.
I began exploring this subject through painting and a performance titled, Support Our Troops, in which I dressed like a fifties housewife and carried around my husband’s box of old Army gear – a box we’ll carry with us our whole lives. I didn’t talk about the box during the performance because I felt I wasn’t allowed to talk about it in real life.
Sarah’s performance, Support Our Troops
I wondered if there were others like me out there – partners of veterans who felt helpless. That’s when I developed an online community project to find snapshots of the real life veteran spouse experience. I avoid images we’re used to seeing, such as happy photos of women welcoming home soldiers. Instead, I search for images usually hidden from mainstream media, like PTSD medication arriving in the mail. The more I search, the more I’m amazed by the bravery of these caregivers and spouses.
It takes vulnerability to share difficult moments with the world, but I can tell you that we experience healing every time we share our burdens because we are no longer the only ones carrying them.
That’s why Hope For The Warriors® means so much to me and my husband. It not only made it possible for me to study art, it gave me a safe place to share my experience with others going through something similar. It even helped me understand what my husband and I need to care for ourselves and each other.
CARE and Giving: The John Stewart Morton, Jr. Matching Gift Challenge
Hope For The Warriors® needs your help to continue providing HOPE through programs and scholarships for military caregivers, like Sarah, and their families.
Each November since 2011, Ticie and Tom Rhodes have challenged friends of Hope For The Warriors® with a 1:1, $25,000 matching gift that doubles the impact of your gift up to a total of $50,000. The John Stewart Morton, Jr. Matching Gift Challenge, established in honor of Ticie’s father, a World War II veteran, helps us care for military caregivers, veterans and active duty service members, and their families throughout the year.
For each donation made in November, we invite you to pay tribute to a veteran, service member, or military caregiver on our virtual Wall of Honor. Please include name, rank, and branch of service. Gifts may be made online. Please visit RippleMarkto make a recurring gift.
Thank you! Your support will help us restore self, family, and hope to military families who need it most.