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Facing Arizona: Caregivers for veterans are the ‘hidden heroes’

Editor’s note: Facing Arizona is a series that will appear on KTAR.com and social media  — follow KTAR News on Instagram and Facebook for updates — highlighting unique and everyday people across our state and give you a glimpse into their lives.

I moved to Arizona in 1995, my father is retired USMC. I started in Yuma and then we were stationed for eight years at Davis-Monthan Air Force base.

For me, my biggest concern, thinking of my children and husband, who has an ambulatory injury due to his service, is long-term care and the effects that has on caregivers.

Today, due to advancements in medical treatment and technology, more and more veterans are returning home with battle injuries they would not have traditionally survived. These include PTSD, TBI and extensive ambulatory issues. This has not only put a strain on and impact on our V.A. and medical facilities, but more importantly the impact on the caregivers that receive no compensation from the state or the federal government. We refer to them as our hidden heroes.

Primarily under the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, we have one family here, in Arizona, that has the fellowship, but we do not recognize those other caregivers. Rand McNally completed a study that detailed the millions of dollars that these people save the federal government by providing care for their spouses or children that were injured while serving their country.

What we need in Arizona is acknowledgement of this fact, and provide support and services for these caregivers, many who are already suffering from burnout. It’s unfortunate that in many cases, the people that can make the biggest difference for our veterans often turn their backs on them. It is equally shameful when these same people do not acknowledge the additional strain and scarifies that are made by friends and family members in providing care and support for their loved ones without aide or assistance from these same governmental agencies. —Lori