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VA Caregiver Support Program

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A Caregiver Support Program (CSP) Editorial Series

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Dear Fellow Caregiver

A Caregiver Support Program Editorial Series

Lou Anne Bates is the caregiver for her husband, an Army Veteran, and a participant in VA’s Caregiver Support Program (CSP). Read Bate’s letter to her fellow caregivers as she shares how she found support through CSP and how she’s reuniting with the woman she was before becoming a caregiver.

Dear Fellow Caregivers - Taking Me Back Again

During the last year, my husband and I have been working with various programs within VA. Our original goal was to seek assistance with my husband, who is an Army Veteran struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and adult attention deficit disorder. The help evolved into many resources to not only help him but me as his caregiver.

I was struggling with stress-induced and lifestyle medical issues that had impacted me so badly that I was unable to walk. I was always in secondary panic mode as a response to dealing with my husband and his medical conditions.

Some of the resources I am eternally grateful for are the Caregiver Support Program, the Annie Program, REACH VA and Building Better Caregivers. We have been provided with in-person and online support, as well as books and other audio resources.

Within these programs, I was able to find the strength to heal myself in order to be a better caregiver for my husband and to be able to help him with learning better coping mechanisms for his own medical conditions.

Knowing that there were people in numbers gave me the strength that I needed to make the choices towards healing for both of us. In the last year, we have been able to take leaps and bounds towards healing.

This is allowing us to take the positives from the negatives in our marriage and personal life to help grow our business, offering garden therapy, workshops and a variety of other options to those who are along their journey of healing.

I have been able to take the support and education provided in these resources to take me back again. I was reminded that I needed to be healthy to help my husband. I found my strength that was buried and I am using that strength to gain ground in my own medical health.

With my strength, I am able to focus on me and find the things in life that bring me happiness. As I heal, I find I want to be able to share my story with others, in hopes to help them find their strength again. These programs not only helped us but they saved us and our marriage.

I hope to continue to use my story to help others in their journey. With the resources I have been provided, I believe that is exactly what I can do.

Learn More About Respite Care

Respite care is a program that pays for care for a short time when family caregivers need a break, need to run errands, or need to go out of town for a few days. Respite Care can be helpful to Veterans of all ages, and their caregivers. Respite care through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is offered by the Office of Geriatrics and Extended Care (GEC). To learn more about how to be connected to respite care for Veterans’ caregivers, contact your local CSP team today.

Need Help?

Call VA’s Caregiver Support Line (CSL) at 1-855-260-3274 to learn more about the support that is available to you, and for assistance connecting with the Caregiver Support Team/Coordinator, at your local VA Medical Center.

VA CSL Expanded hours:
      -Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET
      -Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET

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