Blue Star Families: Caring for Our Military Caregivers
"There are many military caregivers that don't identify as caregivers when they're not in the hospital or have unseen injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, which can be isolating," said Callie Barr, Marine Corps spouse and caregiver. "We need to recognize these caregivers and help them feel supported and understood. This Blue Star Families initiative is a huge step in the right direction."
The Blue Star Cares: Military Caregiver Online Interactive Program is an initiative that aims to increase caregiver knowledge, skills and confidence for those who are caring for wounded warriors, by enhancing their social support networks through a continuum of care, and improving caregiver quality of life through new online training and interactive resources. The training platform will use avatar technology to create computer-based simulations and care scenarios to help caregivers problem-solve and address real-life challenges to care.
Funded by a $750,000 United Health Foundation partnership grant, the interactive program will be piloted and tested over the next three years with the goal of making the program and evidence-based toolkit available to military caregivers throughout the United States and around the world.
"There are about 5.5 million military caregivers in the United States, and the emotional and physical impact of caregiving can be extraordinary," said Noeleen Tillman, executive director, Blue Star Families. "Through the support of United Health Foundation, this new program will provide caregivers valuable resources and training to help improve their own quality of life and the care they are providing to our wounded warriors."
During a Capitol Hill forum on military caregiver challenges, United Health Foundation and Blue Star Families announced an initiative to train and support military caregivers. (L-R) Sherrie Wilcox, Ph.D., CHES, caregiver and senior research advisor at BSF; Marine spouse and caregiver Callie Barr, BSF Operation Family Caregiver Program; Congressman Sanford Bishop, Jr.; and Tom Wiffler, chief operating officer, UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans (Photo: Barbara Salisbury).