Caring for a wounded warrior who suffered injuries from an IED

On our website, an individual recently shared that their neighbor’s son stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) while serving in Afghanistan and asked if we could provide information or support services.

My initial reaction was heartfelt sympathy for those families struggling from the effects of war.

Secondly, I wonder what advice can I offer an individual in this particular situation–who at this very moment is unaware that their role as family member, spouse, partner or friend is forever changing to the role as military caregiver.

Caring for a service member who has suffered injuries from an IED blast can be overwhelming, as is caring for anyone injured in combat.

According to the Department of Defense, Personnel and Military Casualty Statistics, IEDs have caused over 70% of all American combat casualties in Iraq and 50% of combat casualties in Afghanistan, both killed and wounded.

Depending on your wounded warrior’s military branch (Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, National Guard, Navy) notification of your loved one wounded in combat differs, as does the specific military injury.

Once you get the call

While military spouses and family members hope never to receive a call that their service member has been wounded, it is important to be aware of the life-changing events that are about to unfold. To learn more about the notification process and tips to prepare you in the event your loved one is injured, check out “Once You Get the Call!”

“Once You Get the Call!” not only includes information about the notifications process and tips but also includes contact information to the Department of the Army’s Wounded in Action Branch (DA WIA). The contact information will allow you to directly talk to a representative about the status of your wounded warrior IF he/she is in the Army.  Also, if your military family member is in the Army, it may be helpful to contact his/her installation base’s Warrior in Transition Battalion (WTB). The WTB will aid in any information as it relates to injured service members and IED blasts.

Connecting with caregivers

When researching information about IEDs and caregiver support services, I truly believe the best place to start is to connect with caregivers who have already experienced this type of situation. While no wounded warrior experience is the same, utilizing veteran caregivers may be beneficial in receiving feedback on such topics as:

For specific caregiver contact information, I suggest contacting Denise Mettie (dcmettie@hotmail.com). Denise is a veteran caregiver to her son Evan, who was injured in 2006 when his Humvee ran over an IED. Her son Evan, suffers from severe traumatic brain injury due to shrapnel from the IED blast. Denise can share an insight into her experiences that may help you during this time.

In addition to contacting Denise, it may be helpful to follow Colleen Saffron, a Voice of Warriors columnist. The Voice of Warriors gives an insight into Colleen’s trials and tribulations as a military family caregiver and offers advice to caregivers in similar caregiving situations.

Colleen’s husband was wounded in 2004 from an IED explosion as well. Colleen founded, “Operation Life Transformed,” a nonprofit group that trains families of wounded service members so they can work from home while caring for their loved ones. Colleen is very familiar with Veterans Affairs, the WTB and the Army Wounded Warrior Program. Also, she continues to be involved with advocacy and awareness for families of wounded service members. To learn more about Colleen’s story, see U.S. Army Face of Strength.

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