As 2021 recedes into the past, I would like to wish all readers, including caregivers, nonprofits, and community members, a safe, healthy, joyful, and productive New Year! As I reflect on the past year for caregivers, I want to provide the readers of this blog with a very brief recap of some prominent news items and milestones. While much of the last two years has been focused on the very traumatic events associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, along with several dramatic natural disasters in many American communities, people from all walks of life have come together to support one another in these challenging times. They have brought cheer, comfort, and love to those in need. We have much to be thankful for and much to look forward to in the New Year.

Afghanistan Talks

Perhaps the most significant event of the past year—and the past 20 years—Monday, August 30, 2021, was the official date of the end of the Afghanistan war. Starting on October 7, 2001, the war lasted 20 extremely disruptive years and changed lives forever. As our troops were withdrawn, the significant events presented many veterans with emotional triggers that affected these former service members and their families and military caregivers. After my husband returned from Afghanistan, my life was changed instantly, along with millions of other lives, and will never be the same. Caregivers had to try to make sense of how to help their veterans through the turmoil and come to terms with it themselves. The Elizabeth Dole Foundation stepped up and offered a series of webinars featuring mental health providers and specialists to support the military community and help caregivers and veterans deal with the events.

These were widely attended and greatly appreciated. You can review the webinars by visiting the following links:

  • August 19th – Afghanistan: How Do We Talk About It.

  • August 27th – Safe Space: Military & Veteran Caregiver Community Forum.
  • August 31st – Afghanistan: Let’s Continue The Conversation. Video: https://youtu.be/zZceBtm7f_0.

Release of Documentary, “I Married The War”

The film, “I Married The War,” was released, highlighting the stories of wives of combat veterans from WWII to the Middle East—yours truly is also featured! It includes illuminating and sometimes very emotional interviews with 11 wives who have experienced the many upheavals, struggles, fears, strengths, and triumphs of American veterans who have returned from war after daunting life-changing experiences. Their stories of endurance, hope and determination are very inspiring. Several film festivals accepted the documentary. In September, the producers held an in-person screening of “I Married The War,” and a virtual worldwide premiere was held November 6! The film has been released on IMDb! It is also available on DVD, and Vimeo for live streaming.

Virtual Caregiver Career Fair

On October 29, Elizabeth Dole Foundation partnered with Hiring Our Heroes to host a virtual career fair for military caregivers. A Caregiver Career Panel kicked off a virtual caregiver career fair (the first of its kind) with “yours truly” as a panel member. Over twenty vendors attended to help caregivers find remote work, with opportunities ranging from remote employment in the federal government to remote jobs in the hospitality industry, to name a few. Thank you, Elizabeth Dole Foundation, and partners, for a very well attended and successful first —and, hopefully, annual— event to help caregivers!

Caregiver Community Connection (C3)

The Hidden Heroes Facebook Community is an extension of the Hidden Heroes Campaign. It is an effective and efficient way to reach military caregivers and others who serve the military caregiver community on social media. Members of the Hidden Heroes Community had a chance to join virtual events via “The Caregiver Community Connection,” AKA the “C3 Series.” Segments that address various topics make up an interactive web series that aims to empower, inspire, and engage America’s military, veteran, and family caregivers. The C3 Series is mainly available for caregivers to address many areas, including self-care issues. Last year’s C-3 Series included webinars that addressed employment, resume building, networking, entrepreneurship, and online yoga classes, to name a few!

The C3 Series is mainly available for caregivers to address many areas, including self-care issues. Last year’s C-3 Series included webinars that addressed employment, resume building, networking, entrepreneurship, and online yoga classes, to name a few! The Hidden Heroes Community was started in 2016 to help caregivers self-identify and find resources to help them navigate the caregiver life. You can find more information by clicking here to get details about joining the Hidden Heroes Community.

Caring for Community

This has been an eventful year, which came with many milestones for caregivers! I have heard from my readers that they’ve managed to stay involved in the caregiver community as much as possible and welcome the chance to stay engaged with others in the year ahead for support and friendship, as they find ways to find balance in their very busy lives.

As we look ahead and start to plan for the upcoming year, please let me know if you have any recommendations for my blogs or for webinars or other virtual events that you might find helpful. I’m always excited to see how we can come together as a caring and helpful community!

With concerns related to the pandemic still very much a feature of our lives, may we always be mindful of the needs of others and of ways we can continue to build a supportive caregiver community for the millions of us who have so much to share. Many blessings for a healthy and prosperous 2022!


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