Hope For The Warriors®, Clinical Health & Wellness team held the first Military Caregivers Workshop on Tuesday, March 3 in Lorton, VA. The purpose of the workshop was to focus on the needs of those who tirelessly care for our wounded service members and veterans.

Important Facts
Researchers are finding that Caregivers have a greater risk for psychological and physical health problems (Vitaliano, Zhang & Scanlan, 2003; Bride & Figley, 2009). This risk has been attributed to the high levels of emotional stress that Caregivers experience, their lack of participation in self-care activities and their feelings of social isolation (Vitaliano, Zhang & Scalan, 2003; NAC 2010; Tanielian et al., 2013).  Hope For The Warriors recognizes the great risks to our Military/Veteran Caregivers and have created Military and Veteran Caregiver Workshops to bridge the gap in care for Caregivers. They are spreading hope, resources, education and healing.

Crumbling Walls Of Isolation 
The caregivers arrived in the morning and we began the day with share time. Dana Thompson (Regional Social Worker for Hope For The Warriors®) asked the Caregivers to introduce themselves. The Caregivers shared their stories with one another, discovering they were not alone. In fact, others did understand and were going through some of the same challenges. The walls of isolations crumbled very quickly among the group.

The Lonely Caregiver
One particular Caregiver, the wife of a military veteran, was especially shy and hesitant to open up to the others at first. This was probably the first opportunity she had to speak with other caregivers. She is young and looked a little lost. Alone, and afraid of the unknowns. She had dark circles under her eyes. She was physically worn out and more than likely, emotionally worn out as well.

Getting To Know Ourselves
As the day progressed, the Caregivers participated in a short meditation session before beginning Art Therapy and proceeded to tackle a Theater Experiential project, which entailed writing letters to ourselves.  We wrote about our challenges, and ways to overcome those challenges. We thought about how to focus on ourselves and not to forget that we are individuals with dreams and aspirations and that even though we are Caregivers, we can still have dreams, individual goals, and accomplishments.

Nourishment For The Body And Soul 
We all ate lunch together and ended the day with a relaxing yoga routine. We exchanged phone numbers and contact information with one another. Every one of us established new friendships, hope and take home projects that would allow us to continue to break through the cocoons we have been trapped in, slowly breaking free, turning into beautiful butterflies.

Breaking Free
As for the Caregiver I spoke of at the beginning of this blog… her dark circles began disappearing throughout the workshop, she smiled, she laughed, she shared and most of all, she discovered that she is not alone. If you are a Caregiver, and you would like to meet other Caregivers from the comfort of your own home, please be sure to join our online, closed/secret Facebook Group. To learn how to join our Hope For The Warriors® Military and Veteran Support Group, CLICK HERE.

Thank you, Hope For The Warriors® for supporting our Military and Veteran Caregivers. You’ve given us wings to fly.

Much Love,
Patti Katter