Isolation and depression are common issues during the pandemic, especially for injured service members, veterans and their caregivers. An American Red Cross program helps families get the resources they need.
Melissa Allen’s husband Patrick has toured Iraq twice. After the first one, she noticed that something was different. After the second tour, she says everything has changed. She is now her husband’s primary caregiver.
“Nightmares, night terrors, paranoia, anxiety, depression, head trauma, memory. I realized I had to take on this role and figure out what it meant for me to do, ”she said.
She joined the American Red Cross Military and Veteran Caregiver Network and found resources and support she never knew existed.
Melissa Comeau is the program director. She said it “provides mentors for caregivers who are new to the journey, and peer support groups for those who share the journey, and really provides this safe space for caregivers to talk about the challenges. and successes in caregiving.
Comeau said during the pandemic, these families experienced increasing isolation. The network has now doubled in size.
“We went from three peer support groups a week to sometimes seven. We have text chats for caregivers only to get peer support with text only format, you can sit right next to your recipient. care, ”she said.
The network also offers virtual self-care tools to encourage caregivers to take care of themselves.
“Honestly, I would have been lost in the pandemic because they were able to connect me with a peer, connect me to resources, to help navigate a situation that no one has been in before,” Comeau said.
She encourages other caregivers to seek help.
“It’s one way you don’t have to go it alone,” she says.
Comeau said the program made him feel like someone was always by his side.