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Veteran Caregivers Can Be Men, But No One Recognizes That
In late September, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation launched a new nonprofit initiative called Hidden Heroes, a resource network and fellowship program intended to recognize the underappreciated contribution of those who care for physically and psychologically disabled veterans. At the launch gala, actor Tom Hanks introduced the program and noted, “By military caregivers … we’re talking about wives, and family members, and girlfriends, and kids, and parents.”
Caregivers to veterans give time, energy, and resources for little credit. Many of them are women, but what about the nearly half of caregivers who are men: husbands, boyfriends, and male friends who care for disabled veterans?
Hidden Heroes was not alone in their attention to a homogenous group of caregivers: The VA’s “Caregiver Connections” pages only tell the stories of female caregivers supporting male veterans. Caregiver-related pages for major veteran service organization American Legion similarly depicts a female caregiver and a male veteran.
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan SnyderAn Airman assigned to the 606th Air Control Squadron reunites with her loved one during the squadron’s return from deployment to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, Oct. 20, 2016.
Male caregivers receive minimal attention, even though a Rand report commissioned by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation found that more than 40% of veterans’ caregivers are men. Many of those male caregivers support some of the over two million women veterans (over 300,000 of whom are combat veterans) in the United States.
I am one of those women veterans, and one of those male caregivers is my partner. I have never publicly written about him before, but he undoubtedly deserves credit. A veteran of the war in Afghanistan, he’s also thoughtful and nurturing. I live with chronic pain, often cannot complete basic household tasks, and spend a full day out of nearly every week at VA appointments. He does every household task and errand to account for both my disability and my lost time so that I am not disadvantaged while we both go to school full time. He does not fit the stereotypical image of “caregiver” and deserves all the support I would get were the roles reversed.
Despite the reality that plenty of men actively care of their partners and children, caregiving and domestic roles are traditionally considered “women’s work.” There is an expectation that women will assume caregiving responsibility; when break this stereotype, it is considered specifically remarkable. Unless men’s domestic, nurturing contributions are fully acknowledged and supported, caregiving will remain in an invisible, subordinated status, solely the patriotic duty of female caregivers selflessly toiling in the domestic sphere.
Inclusivity in organizations supporting veterans is imperative. Without it, underserved populations of veterans, especially women and LGBT veterans, remain marginalized. Caregivers cannot truly be recognized and supported without acknowledging the diversity of the veteran population.
By visibly focusing attention only on the military/veteran wife as caregiver, support networks attempt to alleviate one problem while perpetuating the issue of invisibility. It is only nominally relevant whether or not the organization actually provides resources for male caregivers. Without being a visibly inclusive organizations, these resource networks communicate to male caregivers and women veterans that, like most veterans’ service organizations, they are not built for them. The result is that underserved populations and their needs remain hidden from the public eye.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Friday that no U.S. troops will take part in enforcing the so-called safe zone in northern Syria and the United States "is continuing our deliberate withdrawal from northeastern Syria."
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan earlier on Friday said Turkey will set up a dozen observation posts across northeast Syria, insisting that a planned "safe zone" will extend much further than U.S. officials said was covered under a fragile ceasefire deal.
On Tuesday at the Association of the U.S. Army's annual conference, Army families had the opportunity to tell senior leaders exactly what was going on in their worlds — an opportunity that is, unfortunately, all too rare.
A new documentary series about Clint Lorance pits the infantry officer convicted of murder against his former soldiers
The fog of war, just kills, and war crimes are the focus of a new documentary series coming to STARZ. Titled Leavenworth, the six-part series profiles 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, the Army infantry officer who was convicted on murder charges for ordering his soldiers to fire on three unarmed Afghan men on a motorcycle, killing two and wounding the third, while deployed to the Zhari district in Kandahar province, on July 2, 2012.
A big stereotype surrounding U.S. service members and veterans is that they are defined only by their military service, from buying "Dysfunctional Veteran" t-shirts to playing hard-boiled, high-octane first-person shooters like Battlefield and Call of Duty (we honestly have no idea where anyone could get that impression).
But the folks at OSD (formerly called Operation Supply Drop), a non-profit veteran service organization that aims to help troops and vets connect with each other through free video games, service programs and other activities, recently found that most of the gamers they've served actually prefer less military-centric fare like sports games and fantasy RPGs.
CEYLANPINAR, Turkey (Reuters) - Shelling could be heard at the Syrian-Turkish border on Friday morning despite a five-day ceasefire agreed between Turkey and the United States, and Washington said the deal covered only a small part of the territory Ankara aims to seize.
Reuters journalists at the border heard machine-gun fire and shelling and saw smoke rising from the Syrian border battlefield city of Ras al Ain, although the sounds of fighting had subsided by mid-morning.
The truce, announced on Thursday by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence after talks in Ankara with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, sets out a five-day pause to let the Kurdish-led SDF militia withdraw from an area controlled by Turkish forces.
The SDF said air and artillery attacks continued to target its positions and civilian targets in Ral al Ain.
"Turkey is violating the ceasefire agreement by continuing to attack the town since last night," SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali tweeted.
The Kurdish-led administration in the area said Turkish truce violations in Ras al Ain had caused casualties, without giving details.