Defense official: Wounded veterans' caregivers a priority
Published: September 13, 2012
WASHINGTON – A top defense official is making support for caregivers of wounded veterans a priority this year, calling for collaboration between the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense and the private sector.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense John R. Campbell, speaking Thursday at the 2012 Warrior-Family Symposium in Washington, said he is calling a conference in early 2013 that would bring together caregivers and support organizations to discuss issues affecting wounded servicemembers and veterans as they work their way through the recovery process.
“Caregivers are on my priority list this year,” said Campbell, who oversees the DOD’s Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy. “The ones that are caregivers that aren’t part of the system – they’re the sisters, the brothers, they’re the spouses – who really need our support.”
There are more than 40 various programs between the VA and DOD that are aimed at supporting wounded warriors and their caregivers, Campbell said.
The announcement came after an Army trauma surgeon told of the sexual trauma she had seen in the military and how she had tried to commit suicide while suffering from PTSD. The wife of a retired Air Force sergeant who was blinded and suffers from PTSD also spoke of the physical and psychological difficulties facing couples during the healing process.
“Let’s talk about what the issues are. I’m aware of some of the issues, but I don’t know them all,” said Campbell, citing sexual trauma in the military. “It is a segment of the population that hasn’t gotten the focus and attention that they need.”
Last year, the Department of Veterans Affairs began providing stipends and new support programs to qualified spouses and parents of wounded troops, as part of a larger effort to assist those caregivers. At the conference on Thursday, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said nearly 6,000 caregivers have signed up for those programs.
Staff reporter Leo Shane III contributed to this report.