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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day: Thanks to Our Service Members and Their Caregivers

MCI_WWIMem2008-001My thoughts are with our veterans today. This year, we have many things to cheer. Veterans Day is being honored in record fashion across the country; the DoD has designated November 'Warrior Care Month' in an effort to increase awareness of its programs and services for its forces; and, in January, we will have a First Lady who promises to make rallying the country around our military families one of her top priorities:

Since Barack [Obama] began his campaign in early 2007, Michelle has met thousands of Americans, hearing their concerns and hopes for the future. As someone who knows the challenge of balancing work and family, Michelle has held roundtables with working women to hear about their struggle to do it all, particularly in a failing economy. In these discussions, Michelle heard the unique stories of military spouses, who work hard to keep their families together while their loved ones are away.

"We held a roundtable for military spouses at Fort Bragg," Michelle says. "It felt like the first time that many of these women had even been asked how they were doing. The tears and the stories went on and on. So we had another roundtable, and then another one."

If Barack is honored with the privilege of serving the United States as president, Michelle looks forward to continuing her work on the issues close to her heart-supporting military families, helping working women balance work and family, and encouraging national service.

"My first priority will always be to make sure that our girls are healthy and grounded," she says. "Then I want to help other families get the support they need, not just to survive, but to thrive. Policies that support families aren't political issues. They're personal. They're the causes I carry with me every single day."

I also wish to thank our caregivers today: the military spouses, kids, parents, brothers, sisters, friends, medics, doctors, nurses, military psychologists, VA counselors, PTSD and TBI researchers, veterans organizations, homeless shelters who provide a safety net for our veterans most in need, advocates, concerned citizens, friendly politicians, employers, volunteers and all others drawn to serve those who serve.

In educational interest, article(s) quoted from extensively.

They are cut from the richest caliber cloth, threaded together by the deepest desire to serve others and forge a better future for all. On October 31, 2008, I was blessed to be among 150 or so of these wonderful caregivers, Missouri area behavioral health counselors coming together to attend the "When the War Comes Home: Advocacy and Treatment for Returning Veterans" conference held at the National World War One Museum-Liberty Memorial. Photos from the conference [more at Flickr]:

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With the help of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, the Jackson County Community Mental Health Fund and the Mid-America Technology Transfer Center, these professional caregivers are stepping up to educate themselves on TBI, PTSD, and all issues military in an effort to reach out to military families in their communities. They lay down yet another option, another professional mental health care track, for our military families should they need it. What an honor to be among them for a day.

We should be thankful and proud of our nation's veterans -- today and every day. And we should feel the same way about their caregivers. Caregivers also serve, wholeheartedly and often with little fanfare or public recognition. While their efforts will certainly help the day-to-day health of those in their care, their work has a direct and powerful effect on the rest of society, too.

Thank you, caregivers. Thank you, veterans.

Conference PowerPoint:

Last Friday, I was so happy to join with others locally to honor our veterans at Northern Illinois University's (always held early so vets can attend other ceremonies today) Veterans Day remembrance. Here are a few photos [more at Flickr]:


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NIUVetsDay2008-001 NIUVetsDay2008-067 NIUVetsDay2008-056 NIUVetsDay2008-073 NIUVetsDay2008-085

To our nation's veterans, of all wars, who strove and sacrificed so to preserve freedom in our world, the lament "Sgt. Mackenzie" by piper Donnie MacNeill and sung by Joe Kilna Mackenzie.

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