Caregivers Deserve to be Remembered

by Sue Pearson

As a caregiver and wife, I take care of a 100% disabled veteran husband (Tom) who proudly served our country for 24 years in the Air Force including serving in the Vietnam War who needs assistance with daily tasks, such as showering, administering medication, transportation to medical appointments and planning his day.  I am always thinking, what I need to do for the two of us?  He is a left leg amputee above the knee, caused from many health issues serving in the military. He is now retired.

As a caregiver, I fulfill many different roles: wife, friend, nurse, case manager, chauffeur, etc. so, I pray for God to give me wisdom to know which role to step into for the best care for every situation.

The demands of caring for a spouse can be overwhelming and builds stress with no end in sight.  There are times I have limited time and energy.  There are times my spouse becomes very irritable due to the pain or illnesses he suffers, which causes stress emotionally and physically on his body.

Caregivers need encouragement, inspiration, and faith to care for a loved one. When I feel overwhelmed, I turn to God and read Matthew 11: 28-30.

My spouse requires a lot of medical care.  He has gone through many surgeries, 3rd degree burns, speech, occupational and physical therapy, and even having cancer twice.

I always have to go and engage/fight for him, usually in a physician’s office or hospital, and help him through so many surgeries—and– even dying in December 2009, which God performed a miracle and brought him from being dead to living again.

It is difficult at times to try to keep up with the household chores, medical bills, plumbing issues, appliances breaking down, yardwork, food shopping, being a chauffeur, and sometimes, even burning the meals.

There are days I have no time for myself to relax or dedicate time to read God’s word or prayer time which causes bad or fearful thoughts.  I need to focus on prayers and think  about God’s gifts and promises, instead of our problems, which can be very difficult at times.   I have had to give up fun activities and time with friends and family to take care of my spouse.

As a caregiver for Tom, I find that it does affect me physically and emotionally. Also, as a caregiver, I sacrifice many social relationships and traveling with my spouse. That comes at a cost emotionally and I feel alone at times.

Furthermore, as a caregiver and wife, I feel guilty that I’m not doing enough for my spouse.  Still, I never think of myself as a caregiver.  I must trust in God above all else.  I couldn’t do this without God who calls us to care. Sometimes the medical conditions my spouse suffers from breaks my heart.

I must ask God to give me strength daily to care for Tom and rely on God’s power working through me instead of my own efforts.  We must trust God in every situation, which can be difficult at times while caring for one’s spouse.  I must aim to protect his dignity.  I must try to keep him active and engaged in activities which is very difficult due to his poor health.

I believe Tom paid a huge price in service of his country, but he has no regrets about serving his country.  It is an honor to take care of him, since we have been married for 41 years.  Caregivers are forgotten at times and need to be remembered.


An Update from Prof. Dr. Christian Führer, Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg

There will soon be a “Mabel-Grammer-Ring” on  the former Sullivan Barracks. The major thoroughfare through the  installation (soon a new suburb) will be named after the very WII soldier  after whom the barracks had been named in the first place.

https://franklin-mannheim.de/sullivan-erhaelt-vier-neue-strassen-6396

After I had started the initiative to name a street after Mabel Grammer,
the City of Mannheim, represented by the municipal archives – asked
me for similarly important German-American personalities, and I
suggested a local blues, swing and jazz icon (Joy Fleming) and Jean
Moore Fasse who ran a Service Club in town for several years.

All three suggestions were approved by the City Council, so Mabel Grammer returns to Mannheim; and this time, for  eternity.
When the municipal archives moved to a new location right
across the Neckar River a while ago, Director Prof Dr Ulrich Nieß had a
great idea: He suggested adorning the scaffolding around the archives’
new home with the eyes of prominent Mannheimers. Among them: Mabel
Grammer. Here’s a report about the art project:

http://www.marchivum-blog.de/2017/05/25/das-ist-meine-geschichte/

You will easily recognize Mabel Grammer’s eyes, taken from the very
photo I had used in my book. She is joined by German soccer legend Sepp
Herberger, Berta Benz (wife of Carl Benz, the inventor of the automobile
who was the first person to actually drive a car) and others.

 

Mabel Grammer’s story is documented in the following movie:

http://brownbabiesfilm.com

 


Mulling Over Service In Different Contexts

Recently, I sat in on a Bernalillo County Commission meeting in Albuquerque. It was fascinating to learn how the county works, and as speakers addressing different topics stepped forward with presentations and requests, it was refreshing to see people communicating civilly. The public comments were well-controlled and timed; yet people got to say exactly what they wanted to say, and the others listened respectfully.

During the meeting, the Bernalillo County Manager called up six people and explained why they had been chosen as employees of the month. She shared some personal things about each recipient, which really drove home that these employees are real people—not just job titles. The details were small and intimate: One employee likes to build Lego sculptures with his son; another loves Disney; another reads voraciously.

That reminded me of a rewards and recognition committee I once chaired at the VA. We honored employees of the month, too, and also gave out a “Shirt off Your Back” and “Supervisor of the Quarter” award.

Whereas the presentation at the County Commission meeting was brief and formal, our VA’s town hall is very lively. One committee member bakes hundreds of cupcakes for every single one of the town halls. It’s her way of giving back to her fellow employees. She does it on her own time and uses her own resources.

I remember when I decided to become a board member for our homeowner’s association. Years ago, at one of the meetings, there were several angry homeowners venting and raging at the board. Suddenly one of them said, “I should join this board because you guys suck!” At that point, although I had not planned to, I stood up and volunteered to be on the board. I figured I could do a better job than that guy. Whether or not it’s true, I’ll never know, but I did get a healthy respect for what it’s like to serve on a board of directors. (Please be kind to your voluntary homeowner’s association board!)

When I was a young army wife, all of us wives in the regiment were invited to the Commander’s town hall meeting. We knew something significant was going to happen because of the wording on the memo.

Once we assembled, the Commander informed us that our husbands were going to be deploying to the Middle East. Everyone sat quietly, processing the news. Some women wept; others talked with their neighbors. The Commander had a difficult job. He wanted to reassure us, but also wanted to stress that whether we liked it or not, he couldn’t prevent the deployment. His wife walked around reassuring us that we could handle this. Her soft-spoken words and quick smile did more for us than any number of “official” assurances did.

My son, when he was a PFC, attended a mandatory town hall meeting at which a suicide prevention training was presented. Like many of the young people in attendance, he viewed the training as merely something to be endured. Yet, a few days later, he was confronted with a distraught fellow soldier who expressed that he wanted to die. Having not unpacked his rucksack from the town hall, my son used the handouts from that training to work through the situation and to determine the next course of action. And, following his own instincts, he ordered them both a pizza to share.

What all these town halls have in common is an element of “service.” County commissioners, federal and local employees serve the public. Citizens choose to serve voluntarily on boards or committees to make their slice of the world a little better. People check in with each other to make sure they’re doing okay.

It’s obvious that the military members serve, but so do their spouses and kids. They share their service member with Uncle Sam; they lend him or her to the mission, and many of them choose, while waiting for their loved one to come back from wherever the military has sent them, to serve by volunteering—in spouse or chapel support groups, in school programs, or any number of voluntary positions on or off base.

When I look around our own East Mountain community, I’m awed by how many people—despite their very busy lives—volunteer. Our food pantries, service organizations, animal shelters, and schools would not function nearly as well if dedicated volunteers didn’t step in to help.

Our museum also depends on volunteers to serve on the board and to act as docents. To many non-profits, large and small, volunteers—or the lack thereof—can make or break an organization. Volunteers are vital.

So, to all of you wonderful volunteers out there—I thank you for your service!


VA History: 1923–National Homes Open For Women Veterans

Ninety-three years ago today, on September 14, 1923, the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers (VHA’s origins) approved the first hospital spaces for women veterans.

1924_02_17_National Homes accepting disabled women veterans_NYT

Hospitalization and medical care for women who served as Army or Navy nurses during World War I were first authorized as part of Public Law 65-326 on March 3, 1919, just a few months after the Armistice. It was the third time in history that federal veterans benefits had been extended to women nurses who served with U.S. military forces as contractors or employees during wartime. The first federal benefit—pensions–was authorized in 1892 for women nurses who provided support to the U.S. military during the Civil War. In 1897 Congress approved the right to burial in national cemeteries for the same group. Although the 1919 law gave women nurses the right to medical care, no facilities were prepared to accept them.

The Women’s Overseas Service League, founded in 1921, took up the cause to force changes so that women veterans could use the benefits they were entitled to. Only after the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers approved dedicated space for women veterans did the War Department take further action.  The World War Veterans Act of 1924, as well as several smaller acts afterwards, ensured that accommodations were made to house and provide medical care to women veterans.

At the National Homes, a separate building at the Danville Branch (now VA Illiana HCS) in Danville, Illinois, was authorized for women veterans who required general medical treatment. A floor was reserved for them in the tuberculosis hospital at  the Northwestern Branch (now Clement J. Zablocki VAMC) in Milwaukee.  Catherine G. Witter, a 39 year old Army nurse who served at Camp Zachary Taylor during World War I, was one of the earliest women veterans admitted. She entered the Danville (IL) Branch on December 19, 1923 and died of stomach cancer on July 14, 1924. She is buried in the Home’s cemetery, now known as Danville National Cemetery.

By the time that the National Homes became part of the Veterans Administration in 1930, more hospitals had been constructed and opened, so women veterans weren’t limited to just one or two facilities.

Roughly 21,500 women served as nurses during World War I, with about 10,000 of them serving overseas.

image001

Photo: American nurse in Paris, France, during World War I, Library of Congress

Links to learn more:

http://www.redcross.org/about-us/history/red-cross-american-history/WWIhttp://www.redcross.org/about-us/history/red-cross-american-history/WWI

Women’s Overseas Service League: http://www.wosl.org/photo.htm

Story: VA Historian

 

 


New Mexico Author Looking For Photos of KAFB for new Book

Joseph Page, who has authored several books about military installations, is looking for good-quality photos about Kirtland Air Force Base and, especially photos of its families.  If you’d like to submit your photos to add to the book–due out in late 2017–please email Joseph at joseph.t.page.ii@gmail.comIMG_0480


In Honor of the Ironing Board Brigade: THE SERVICE WIFE

Submitted by Marcia S Klaas, original author unknown

What is a service wife?? You might say the service wife is a bigamist, sharing her husband with another demanding entity called “DUTY”. When duty calls, she becomes wife number two. Until she accepts her competition, her life can be miserable.

Above all, she is womanly, although there are times she begins to wonder … Like the time when “HER” serviceman answers the call to duty, and she finds herself mowing the lawn. Then she suspects she is part male.

She usually comes in three sizes: Petite, plump, and more pleasingly plump. Amidst constantly changing settings, she finds it difficult to determine what her true size is.

A service wife is international. She may be an Iowa farm girl, a French mademoiselle, a Japanese doll, or an ex-Army nurse, but when discussing her problems with newly found friends, she speaks the same language and from the same general experience. Read the rest of this entry »


Memories of Mom in Post-War Germany

May 6th, 2016 is Military Spouse Appreciation Day–here’s a memory about an incredible military wife–and mom.

By James Kenderdine.

Postcards from when our family was stationed in Germany, 1947-1950. One of my last memories of Germany was when we were getting ready to leave in 1950, stopping on the Autobahn north of Frankfurt and getting out of the car to look south at what was left of the city. Rolling small hills (made of rubble) covered with grass and brush all the way to the center of the city. I could see the ruins of the cathedral in the center of the city from where I stood. When I stood in the same spot again in 1977, all I could see was the city that had been built since 1950, I could not see any part of the cathedral.

Our years in Germany shaped the lives of everyone in our family in ways that, 65 years later, my sister and I are still coming to understand and appreciate. My guess is that any spouse or brat who did not take the Army’s offer of evacuation during the Berlin Airlift feels that same. My mother said she was not leaving, that, in old army terms, “I can stay the winter, no matter how bad it is.” Watching her learn to shoot and MI carbine was fantastic, and to this day, I can still clearly see the image of her carbine, with a 20 round clip in it, round in the chamber, hanging by its sling next to her and dad’s bed. Read the rest of this entry »