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Military Caregiver Month: Hidden heroes

May is recognized as the Department of Defense’s Month of the Military Caregiver. This time is used to honor, commend, and show appreciation for those that care for wounded, ill and injured service members. The Air Force Wounded Warrior Program (AFW2) has a Caregiver Support and Family Program to assist caretakers in multiple ways,

May is recognized as the Department of Defense’s Month of the Military Caregiver. This time is used to honor, commend, and show appreciation for those that care for wounded, ill and injured service members. The Air Force Wounded Warrior Program, or AFW2, has a Caregiver Support and Family Program to assist caretakers in multiple ways. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Kortinae Lozano)

Sara Gray and her husband Shawn. (Courtesy Photo)

Sara Gray and her husband, Shawn, at Bay Harbor, Maine. Sara is a caregiver to her husband who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury. It was in the Caregiver Support and Family Program, where Sara found tools and a supportive network to help her through her caregiver journey. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas. (AFNS) -- May is recognized as the Department of Defense’s Month of the Military Caregiver. This time is used to honor, commend and show appreciation for those that care for wounded, ill and injured service members. The Air Force Wounded Warrior Program, or AFW2, has a Caregiver Support and Family Program to assist caretakers in multiple ways,

The caregiver program was founded in 2014 to improve caregiver resiliency by connecting them with other caregivers who can share experiences, provide guidance and ultimately build trust and long-lasting relationships.

“We currently have 1,612 caregivers enrolled in our program who have created a network of support for each other,” said Tonya McGough, Caregiver Support and Family Program manager. “They develop strengths from one another and establish healthy relationships that enhance the quality of life for themselves and their families.”

Becoming a caregiver to a wounded, ill or injured service member can bring forward new challenges for a family. Without the proper training, guidance and support system, some can have a hard time thriving and being successful with this new lifestyle while still maintaining their own mental health.

“For the first time in 13 years, I felt like I wasn’t alone anymore,” said Sara Gray, member of the caregiver program. “Through this program I met people who understood all my emotions, provided tools to help me keep pushing forward and helped me realize how strong I truly am. The best benefit is other caregivers I remain in touch with.”

The Caregiver Support Program identifies, connects and improves caregiver resiliency by providing resources, workshops, resiliency tools and new skill sets to ensure caretakers reach their ultimate potential. During times like these of unpredictability and isolation, the program has turned to social media to stay connected.

AFW2, and the Caregiver Support Program, host daily virtual socials live on Facebook. Visit the program’s Facebook pages to hear stories of resiliency and engage in activities hosted by Air Force wounded warriors and caregivers. For additional information, visit www.woundedwarrior.af.mil to refer an Airman to the program, read about the program’s mission, or learn about additional services offered to caregivers and families.

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