Support for caregivers of vets
By Nick Ng
When some military veterans return home from service, they may have trouble adapting to a normal civilian life. Oftentimes, symptoms of physical and mental health problems emerge after their homecoming that prevent them from getting a job or taking care of themselves. Their care falls onto the shoulders of a family member, spouse or partner who becomes the veteran’s primary caregiver.
“When I was caregiving, that’s exactly what happened. I forgot to take care of myself,” said Brittany Fuller, a realtor and native Scripps Ranch resident. “Everything was prioritized in a way that my care was last on the list.”
Fuller has been reaching out to residents who are such caregivers of disabled veterans. She is an advocate for the Southern Caregiver Resource Center (SCRC) where she had participated in one of the programs in 2019.
“A lot of the people whom we work with are caregivers who are caring for people with memory issues like dementia, Alzheimer’s and memory loss,” Fuller said. “That can be very taxing on the caregiver. Memory loss can come along with TBI – traumatic brain injury – or PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder), and caregivers often don’t know what to expect.”
The SCRC is a nonprofit that provides free services such as support groups, counseling and respite care to caregivers of disabled adults in San Diego and Imperial counties. Operation Family Caregiver (OFC) is one of the programs that Fuller attended that focuses on caregivers of military vets.
“This is the program that changed my life,” Fuller said. “We work with active duty and veterans, and it is confidential and free.”
The OFC is in partnership with the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers, which was founded in 1987 in honor of the former First Lady who is currently the president of its board of directors. It offers one-on-one coaching for about 20 minutes on the phone for caregivers.
Ever since she completed the OFC program in August 2019, Fuller reached out to caregivers virtually not only in California, but also in Arizona, Florida, Hawaii and Samoa. If they are interested, Fuller refers them to coaches at OFC who are licensed social workers.
“I think it’s easier to deny the needs of your own because you don’t see them as well as other people’s needs. Before you know it, your needs go to the bottom. That’s when things get really heavy,” Fuller said. “It’s so important to take care of yourself so you can take care of others. Your value is so much more than what you’re able to see.”
Fuller will share her story in an upcoming OFC conference on March 3, at 11 a.m. via Zoom. Caregivers can sign up at bit.ly/2LL9kcU.
To donate, email Brittany Fuller: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the nonprofits, visit SCRC at caregivercenter.org and OFC at operationfamilycaregiver.org.