Joining Forces Third Anniversary
From First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden
April 11th, 2014
On June 7, 2012, Linda Mills received a phone call that changed her life forever: Linda’s husband, Army Staff Sergeant Andrew Mills, had been seriously injured when an IED exploded in Afghanistan.
Almost immediately, Linda quit her job to become Andrew’s full-time caregiver. In the weeks and months after the explosion, Andrew underwent more than 30 surgeries. The two of them moved from North Carolina to Virginia, so that Andrew can rehab at a state-of-the-art military hospital. And every single day, Linda has stood by her husband’s side, helping with physical therapy, assisting with daily personal care, and managing the family’s legal and financial responsibilities.
Today, after two years in her new role as a caregiver, Linda considers herself not just a military spouse, but a nurse, an advocate, a scheduler, and a coach. And as she often says, even a tragedy can lead to a new beginning – in a few weeks’ time, she and Andrew will welcome their first child into the world.
And Linda’s story of commitment and resilience isn’t unusual. There are an estimated 5.5 million military caregivers in our country, including 1.1 million who support our newest generation of post-9/11 veterans. According to a study commissioned by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, many of these caregivers don’t have much of a support network for themselves, and over time, the physical, logistical, and emotional demands of caregiving can take a serious toll. In fact, caregivers report more strains on their relationships at work and at home than non-caregivers. Often, their own health suffers, and they are at higher risk for depression. There are financial consequences too: military caregivers wind up missing as many as three or four days of work a month – and that means lost income as well.
The burden that these women and men bear for our country is real – and they shouldn’t have to shoulder it all alone.
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