Military Family Caregiving

Photo provided by the Fort Hood Sentinel
Photo provided by the Fort Hood Sentinel

Many believe our heroes are those fighting on the front line for a country that long stands to prosper and in turn adhere to our tradition of the “Land of the free, and home of the brave.”

However, in the line of duty these men and women’s heroism are put to the test. Their valor comes at the price of death, and for those few that are able to live to see another day, these individuals struggle with effects from a lifetime of war.

Those heroes who live to see another day face a great challenge, a challenge so difficult it could make the wounded warrior seem as if they were back on the “front line.”

What is this challenge? It is the “will to live;” to battle the scars from war.

Yet during this new challenge wounded warriors has a different unit watching their backs…it is their families and those who support them.

We often remember our fallen service members and veterans, what we often forget, are their caregivers.

Cooperative Extension–Supporting our military family caregivers

When a new initiative is introduced in the caring of Soldier and Families, Extension staff, working together with their military partners, meet the challenge to provide quality programs, activities and resources to assist the Soldier and Family in whatever they require.

With an array of online resources for caregivers, it can be difficult at times to find resources at is relates to military caregiving and military medical conditions.

With the help of Cooperative Extension, our Military-Extension partnership in particular, we are able to bring some of those resources to one location.

Our military family caregiving initiative first began when Texas AgriLife Extension Service was charged with the task of providing educational programs, online resources and caregiving skills through the use of Military Families Learning Network for military caregivers.

The materials for military family caregiving focus on loved ones (spouse, mom, dad, brother, sister, friend, partner, etc.) caring for a very seriously injured (VSI) or seriously injured (SI) service members.

The medical conditions we are currently working on pertain to wounded warriors with post-traumatic stress disorder, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, severe burns, loss of limb, and loss of vision.

Each topical article will offer a brief overview of the topic, what the military caregiver can expect from the condition of his/her wounded warrior, tips to reduce the caregiver burden, and resources to find more information.

Continue to check back to this blog, FacebookTwitter, and the Military Families Learning Network page for the latest Military Caregiving articles and resources.


Reflections of 9/11

Our work in the Military Families Learning Network is to link extension and research to the work of military families services professionals–the ones in the military and in government and non-government agencies who are called upon to help military families.

Brent Elrod, of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and United States Department of Agriculture, sent us, in the Extension-Military Partnership, the following email to reflect on 9/11 and remind us of why there is an Extension-Military partnership and why we are developing a Military Families Learning Network.

He challenges us to continue our personal, professional, and collective commitments to help strengthen and support individuals, families, and communities, particularly those in the military.

Reflections of 9/11 (email sent September 9, 2011)

With the tenth anniversary of 9/11 upon us, our thoughts return to the events of the day: where we were, who we were with, and the range of emotions we felt.

The magnitude of the loss, the vulnerability, and the search for meaning were immediate, collective – and continue to reverberate to this day.

Glued to our tvs, tears running down our faces, we sought comfort in the knowledge our loved ones were safe. We exchanged greetings with strangers, and noticed the absence of planes in the sky.

I recall renewing my vow to return to Washington, D.C. that day. A personal pledge to do what I could – on a grander scale – to demonstrate that  good ultimately trumps evil.

I know that others – I expect many of you – made personal promises of your own.

We pause to honor those who lost their lives (or had lives altered) in the terror attacks, at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, as well as those who have sacrificed to protect the homeland since.

We recommit to strengthen and support individuals, families, and communities through our research, extension and academic programs. Our efforts help ensure that 9/11’s lasting legacy includes the very clear message that hope will not – cannot – be denied.


Brent Elrod
Acting Division Director – Family and Consumer Sciences
National Program Leader – Military and Veteran’s Programs
Division of Family and Consumer Sciences
Strengthening Families, Farms, Communities and the Economy
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
United States Department of Agriculture