Support for Caregivers

VA Caregiver Hotline

Taking Care of Your Service Member

How can I support my family member who is coping with psychological health issues?

Traumatic experiences – such as receiving incoming fire or knowing someone who was seriously injured or killed – are common among service members deployed to hostile environments. These experiences can impact the lives of service members and their families who support them. If your family member had such experiences while deployed, he or she is not alone.

Adults can help their family member by researching and understanding some of the stressors and emotions that a service member might experience while deployed. Family members’ most important role is to be genuine, loving and supportive. You and your family have many ways to get help, and there are some simple things you can do immediately to support your loved one.

For more information, read "Supporting Your Service Member with Psychological Concerns" from the Real Warriors Campaign.

How can I support my family member who is recovering from or coping with TBI?

Individuals who sustain a TBI may experience short- and long-term effects, such as alterations in thinking, sensation, language, behavior and emotions. Whether the TBI is mild, moderate or severe, persistent symptoms can have a profound impact, not only on the injured survivor but also on those who function as caregivers. It is you, the caregiver, who must not only survive the immediate shock when a TBI occurs, but must also learn to support and aid the service member who experiences ongoing effects caused by this injury. Learn more about TBI and how you can help your loved one from Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, a DCoE center.

Taking Care of Yourself

How can I take care of myself while supporting my service member after deployment? Military deployments are emotionally and physically demanding. The experiences of living in high-stress combat environments can continue to affect service members at home. They may have trouble adjusting to living in a comfortable, relaxed and loving environment. Additionally, you may notice your family member feeling and acting differently than he or she did before deployment. These feelings are likely temporary, but these reactions might not disappear the moment your family member returns home. Your service member may need your support to help adjust to living and feeling at home again.

Families and friends of returning service members provide the majority of support for both physical and emotional wounds. Live-in family members such as spouses, parents or children may take on more responsibility simply because they are more available and accessible to offer help. Whatever your role may be, it is important to remember your own psychological and physical wellness.

For more information, read "Caring for Yourself While Helping Support Your Service Member" from the Real Warriors Campaign or visit the VA Caregiver Support website.

This page was last updated on: August 8, 2016.