Embrace A Vet has initiated its first community-based peer support group, based in Farmingdale, Maine. The founding members have named the group “Heart 2 Heart,” an expression coined from a prior Wellness Retreat.
The purpose of the group is to provide education and support to caregivers of military veterans with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI.) The group meets in Farmingdale on the last Saturday of the month for a potluck lunch, complete with sharing of stories, peer support and on-going resource development provided by Embrace A Vet.
This group is growing and accepting more members, and caregivers who are living in other areas of Maine have also expressed interest in starting more local support groups. If you’d like more information about joining one of our groups, please use our “Contact Us” form.
The group was piloted at our 2014 Winter Wellness Retreat, held at Camp Kieve. Spouses or significant other caregivers met to complete a national self-assessment questionnaire, identify their needs and brainstorm topics that they would like to learn more about to reduce their personal stress and fatigue around caring for a veteran spouse who has PTS or TBI. It became obvious during the retreat, that there was a special bond forming among the couples attending the retreat. Formal and informal gatherings of caregivers continued to “huddle” throughout the five-day retreat, resulting in one of the caregivers, a Registered Psychiatric Nurse, stepping forward and offering to host the first meeting of EAV caregivers at her home. The rest is history.
More than any of us could have anticipated has happened as a result of the caregiver group forming. Other veteran’s wives have joined the group and are now considering and requesting applications to attend a future Wellness Retreat. And there is interest among some of our EAV dog training class participants to join the caregiver group, as well as possibly attend a retreat with their spouse/significant other. EAV is reaching out to caregivers who attended past retreats to gauge their interest in caregiver education and support. We don’t know where this is going….but we love the results and are looking forward to measuring outcomes. Stay tuned !!!
In recognition of the vast geographic areas where Maine caregivers reside, Embrace A Vet invites you to tap into an on-line military caregiver peer network spearheaded by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. Click here for more info.