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Military caregiver webinar to be presented Oct. 10

COLLEGE STATION – September 28, 2013--A free webinar about military family caregivers will be presented 1:45-2:45 p.m. CDT on Oct. 10 by the Military Families Learning Network through an agreement with the Department of Defense and in association with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Military Program.

The webinar, “Military Caregivers: Commonalities and Differences Shed Light on Individuality,” will be presented by Dr. Mary Brintnall-Peterson, professor emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Extension, and owner of MBP Consulting, LLC in Albany, Wis.

“This free webinar is designed for Department of Defense military professionals who work with family caregivers of wounded, ill or disabled service members,” said Rachel Brauner, AgriLife Extension Military Program — Wounded Warrior project coordinator, College Station. “The webinar will explain the commonalities and differences of military caregivers, so professionals have a better understanding of the military caregiver’s individual needs. But even though the webinar is designed for professional military caregivers, other caregivers and interested members of the public are invited to participate.”

According to Andy Crocker, AgriLife Extension family development and resource management specialist in Amarillo, Brintnall-Peterson has more than 20 years of experience addressing caregiver issues. For the past five years, she has focused on the needs and challenges of military caregivers.

Crocker, who helped coordinate the webinar, said one topic area would be how military caregivers are similar to other caregivers, especially caregivers of older adults.

“While they face many of the same challenges as older adult caregivers, the uniqueness of being a military caregiver often gets lost,” Crocker said. “We are presenting this webinar to help illuminate those differences and increase the overall understanding of what it takes to be a caregiver for someone who was wounded or became ill or injured in service to their country.”

“Typically civilian caregivers are older women who are spouses, but with military caregivers, especially caregivers for service members returning from Afghanistan or Iraq, the caregiver is often a parent or both parents,” Brintnall-Peterson said.

She said other differences military caregivers may experience include being physically apart from their support system due to the service member needing specialized medical care, having to navigate both military and regular health care systems, and a greater likelihood of caring for someone with a traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.

“Making it even more difficult for military caregivers is the fact that some of the wounds or injuries are invisible and not apparent or understood by others, so caregivers find themselves explaining why certain environments are difficult for their service member,” Brintnall-Peterson said. “They never know how or when their service member will react to loud noises, different lighting, smells, or become confused, quiet, angry or have other types of reactions.”

Donna Seymour, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for Warrior Care Policy, said, “Resilience of the entire family and our communities is critical to helping our service members, especially those with invisible wounds. While care is typically provided by a parent or spouse, the children, other relatives and friends are also affected. Our programs have to reach a wide audience to be most effective.

However, Brintnall-Peterson noted, public interest is growing toward the understanding and support of injured military veterans and their caregivers.

“As a society, we’ve become more sensitive to this population, especially after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” she said. “But there is still much the public doesn’t understand. We hope this webinar will help.”

AgriLife Extension also has developed a series of educational materials related to military caregiving, which can be found at http://www.extension.org/pages/60576. The Military Families Learning Network’s Military Family Caregiving site provides an Operation Learn section that includes webinars, videos and online lessons, as well as tips for caregivers and additional caregiving resources.

For more information on the webinar, go to https://learn.extension.org/events/1214

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