RCI Statement on Afghanistan

Statement on Afghanistan from
the Rosalynn Carter Institute

Over the past week, we have watched in horror as the situation in Afghanistan worsens, and we can only imagine you are doing the same.

Many of you may be experiencing a wide range of feelings about Afghanistan.  Whatever emotions you may be having are normal, and it’s also completely reasonable for those emotions to swing back and forth. You and your families have sacrificed so much. As you work to make sense of these sacrifices, the news may make that more difficult.

Often, the most difficult times offer the chance to dig deep and find the strength that lies within. Whether through our programs, listed below, or any others provided by our partners and friends, we encourage you to summon your own resilience and let it guide you through these times. Please let us know if we can help.

Operation Family Caregiver. The Rosalynn Carter Institute’s signature military coaching program, Operation Family Caregiver, provides free and confidential one-on-one support to caregivers of those injured as a result of their military service. Our specially-trained coaches help the families of returning service members and veterans find strength through their journey so they feel fully capable of living their best lives, regardless of what life throws at them. Coaching is available in both English and Spanish. Learn more and sign up here.

Operation Caregiver Support. Powered in part by Wounded Warrior Project®, Operation Caregiver Support is a virtual peer support group for those who provide care to post-9/11 service members and veterans. Operation Caregiver Support honors and empowers injured service members, veterans, and their families by fostering connections, cultivating new skills, and creating a community of support. Registrants must be a caregiver for a post-9/11 veteran or service member and a Wounded Warrior Project Family Support Member and/or a current or previous participant of Operation Family Caregiver. Learn more and sign up here..

Crisis Text Line. The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers has partnered with Crisis Text Line® to make it even easier for caregivers to reach out for help. Caregivers now can send a text with just the keyword TOUGH and open a conversation with a counselor trained to respond to a mental health crisis. Crisis Text Line® provides high-quality, free 24/7 text-based mental health support to support people in their moments of need. By texting TOUGH to 741741, family caregivers can receive support for feelings of loneliness, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, or any other concern at any time of the day or night.

Your family’s service has taught you the true meaning of resilience. Need help with how to talk to your family about what is happening in Afghanistan? Check out this helpful resource from our partners Elizabeth Dole Foundation and Sesame Workshop. This is a difficult time, and we are here to support and walk alongside you. We are here with you. Please let us know if there is anything we can do.

RCI and WWP to Create Connections for Military Families

Rosalynn Carter Institute and Wounded Warrior Project to Create Connections for Military Families 

Operation Caregiver Support to build health, strength, and resilience of caregivers supporting wounded warriors

The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) is proud to announce a powerful new partnership with Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) that will benefit caregivers in military families. Informed by nine years of experience coaching military caregivers through its Operation Family Caregiver (OFC) program, RCI’s partnership with WWP will apply lessons learned and develop a new support program for family members. 

The new program, named Operation Caregiver Support, combines RCI’s hallmark one-on-one coaching with a group component. Both the family support members WWP serves and current OFC participants enrolled in this program will have the opportunity to connect with caregiving peers, build a community of support, and learn new skills in an interactive, virtual group setting.

“To maximize the reach of RCI, we have built a network of phenomenal partners, and this exciting new initiative with Wounded Warrior Project is a perfect example,” said Dr. Jennifer Olsen, Executive Director of RCI. “Wounded Warrior Project is a name and a network that military families trust and respect, and through this partnership, we will be able to reach, support, and empower more veterans and caregivers than ever before.”

“I was a caregiver and I know what it takes to be there for someone you care about. I’m also far too familiar with what it means when our military members come home injured,” said COL(Ret.) George L. FredrickRCI Board President. “Wounded Warrior Project is an exemplar in supporting military families, and it is an honor to work together to mitigate challenges military caregivers face.” 

OFC began almost a decade ago, and more than 1,110 military families have benefited from the program to date. Specially trained coaches provide free, confidential, and one-on-one support to families of returning service members and veterans to help them find strength through their journey so they feel fully capable of living their best lives, regardless of what life throws at them. The program has proven to reduce caregiver depression and burden as well as health complaints, and caregivers report that children in the home have less anxiety. Caregivers who complete the OFC program feel more confident in their ability to manage day-to-day challenges, resulting in enhanced satisfaction with life. 

There is no “one size fits all” approach to caregiver support. In creating an open and ongoing, bi-monthly peer support program through Operation Caregiver Support, as well as delivering individual coaching through OFC to WWP’s family support members, this partnership provides caregivers with the chance to engage and take advantage of programming at their own pace and comfort level. The partnership will allow WWP and RCI to learn together what approaches – whether individual, in group settings, or a combination of both — yield the greatest positive impact on veteran caregiver communities. 

“Reaching out to ask for help takes courage,” said WWP CEO Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Mike Linnington, who served with COL. Fredrick. “But when the warriors and caregivers we serve put themselves out there, they grow stronger. In partnering with the Rosalynn Carter Institute, we’re connecting veteran families with resources that can help them take care of themselves and improve their quality of life.”  

Registration for Operation Caregiver Support is currently open to current or past OFC participants who care for post-9/11 injured veterans. 

RCI and Blue Star Families Explore Caregiving in Military Families

Rosalynn Carter Institute and Blue Star Families to Explore Caregiving in Military Families

Learnings from 2020 Military Family Lifestyle Survey Will Provide Insights for Caregiver Report

AMERICUS, GEORGIA – The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) is teaming up with Blue Star Families to promote and expand upon the 2020 Military Family Lifestyle Survey, an annual survey that analyzes the challenges and opportunities faced by military families. Prior to the survey going live, RCI worked with Blue Star Families to add new questions to better understand the experience of caregivers within military families.

The survey is administered in collaboration with Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families and is through October 16, 2020. In addition to releasing a comprehensive report in early 2021, Blue Star Families has committed to working with RCI on a follow-up report that will delve more deeply into the caregiver experience, whether they’re caring for a veteran or another loved one.

“We know that military families are grappling with a great deal of stress, especially during this year of uncertainty because of the pandemic. And we know that in many military families, caregiving is one of those additional burdens, but there is so much we do not know about who they are caring for and what supports they need,” said Dr. Jennifer Olsen, Executive Director of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving. “We’re proud to partner with Blue Star Families, which has an impressive track record of learning from military families, and we will use what we discover about the experiences of caregivers in military families to drive change and progress in public policy.” 

Serving military families is a priority for RCI, which launched its signature military program, Operation Family Caregiver (OFC), nearly nine years ago. OFC provides free and confidential coaching to empower the families of returning service members and veterans to make decisions that will lead to improvements in their own lives. The program is tailored to the unique needs of military families. It helps caregivers find strength through their journey, so they feel fully capable of living their best lives, regardless of what life throws at them.

Blue Star Families knows well the significant role that caregivers play in the health and resilience of a military family. The organization was founded in 2009 by military spouses, a population that often provides care to veterans and service members returning home with both visible and invisible wounds. The annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey is its flagship initiative, and this marks its 11th year.

“The 2019 Military Family Lifestyle Survey pointed to family stability as a top issue for both military spouses and service members, but we have much more to learn about what that means and why it is the case,” said Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO of Blue Star Families. “We are excited to partner with the Rosalynn Carter Institute to identify what caregivers in military families need most.”

RCI Teams Up with Duke University to Improve Supports for Caregivers

Rosalynn Carter Institute Teams Up with Duke University to Improve Supports for Caregivers

Initial Research Found Caregiver Program Reduced Childhood Anxiety

AMERICUS, GEORGIA – The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) has teamed up with researchers at Duke University to better understand the needs of unpaid caregivers across America. Over the course of two years, the partnership – which is funded by Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation – will yield recommendations on how to better prepare and support caregivers and measure outcomes from RCI programs. 

Initial joint research on the potential effect of caregiver coaching on childhood anxiety in military households – provided through RCI’s Operation Family Caregiver (OFC) program – was published in an article in the Maternal and Child Health Journal. The research reinforces the potential broader benefits of caregiver coaching and support to the family.

“While it’s the personal stories of caregivers that inspire us, it’s the data that informs our work and RCI is proud to offer research-driven, evidence-based programs that are proven to build resilience in caregivers,” said Dr. Jennifer Olsen, Executive Director of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving. “The opportunity to work with a trusted, respected research partner in Duke University is critical. These recent findings are positive, but it is clear we need to do more to understand the dynamics of caregiver stress across the entire family. We look forward to continuing our work together so that we can better support and empower even more caregivers and their families.”

Notably, the joint research found that decreases in caregiver depressive symptoms and health complaints were proportionally associated with reduced child anxiety. In other words, when military parents are less stressed, their children are less stressed, too.

“We are excited to work with RCI to provide evidenced-based results that support their incredibly important work,” said Dr. Megan Shepherd-Banigan, Assistant Professor in Duke University’s Department of Population Health Science and School of Medicine and Core Faculty in the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy. “This partnership provides a unique opportunity to use our collaborative research to quickly translate findings to on-the-ground programs that support family caregivers—a vital resource for long-term care. Our goals are to understand the experiences of vulnerable family caregivers, determine which caregivers will benefit from RCI’s programs, and builds ways to communicate important results to our program implementers and caregivers.”

In addition to this recent study, Duke researchers from the Department of Population Health Sciences continue to work with coaches in RCI’s Resources Enhancing Alzheimer’s Caregiver Health (REACH) and OFC programs, to help them understand the importance of measuring intervention outcomes, soliciting feedback, and more effectively deploying assessments.  

Researchers from the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy are also currently soliciting caregivers in the Gulf Coast region for a paid study on the needs of caregivers who have been impacted both by the COVID-19 pandemic and by a hurricane or flood, such as Hurricane Harvey. This project will help RCI better understand and respond to the needs of caregivers in emergency situations. 

“Better data means better programs, and more support for caregivers. We are always looking to reach more caregivers, in more ways, and in more places, and this is yet another example of how we can expand our reach through collaboration,” Dr. Olsen added.

K. Conwell Smith Joins Rosalynn Carter Institute

K. Conwell Smith Joins Rosalynn Carter Institute as Director of Operation Family Caregiver

Smith Brings 25 Years of Experience in Policy and Advocacy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving today announced that K. Conwell Smith is the new Director of Operation Family Caregiver (OFC) and Military Programs.

OFC is tailored to the unique needs of military families who are supporting servicemembers or veterans. Smith has 25 years of experience in policy and advocacy, including significant expertise in national health care policy.

“Conwell’s deep experience in health care policy and advocacy will be a tremendous asset for RCI as we work to elevate the  needs of unpaid caregivers, and position caregiving as a critical national priority,” said Dr. Jennifer Olsen, Executive Director of RCI. “The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clearer than ever that caregiving is an issue of public health, with significant impact on both the strength and stability of our health care system, and on the mental and physical well-being of caregivers nationwide.”

Serving military families is a priority for RCI, which launched OFC, its signature military program, in 2011. OFC provides free and confidential coaching to help the families of returning service members and veterans. The program helps caregivers find strength through their journey, so they feel fully capable of living their best lives, while managing their care responsibilities.  

“I have had an exciting and fulfilling career in health care, but it wasn’t until I became a caregiver myself that I fully realized the complexities of caregiving or the lack of institutional supports or resources available to the nation’s growing population of caregivers,” said Smith. “At RCI, caregivers learn that they aren’t alone, that they are stronger and more resilient than they realize, and that there are proven resources and approaches out there to help them on their caregiving journey. I am honored to join the team of this incredible organization and represent a founder with as much courage, conviction, and compassion as former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.”

Smith’s resume includes eight years as Vice President of Legislation and Political Affairs for the Federation of American Hospitals, as well as time with the American Medical Association and the Senate Budget Committee, where she served as Senior Health Policy Advisor. Most recently, Smith was the founder of Inside Pitch Government Affairs LLC, a consulting firm committed to the development of sound policy and project management through strategic advocacy.

Smith will be based in Washington, D.C., positioning her to most effectively advocate for caregiver interests as a national health care priority. 

OFC Announces New Partnerships

Operation Family Caregiver’s New Partnerships will Expand Support to New Communities  

RCI to Work with Caregivers on the Homefront, RallyPoint, and MVCN

AMERICUS, GEORGIA – At a time when many Americans are feeling isolated and disconnected, the Rosalynn Carter Institute (RCI) is proud to partner with Caregivers on the Homefront, RallyPoint, and the American Red Cross Military and Veteran Caregiver Network (MVCN) to expand outreach to caregivers. Through these three exciting partnerships, RCI will provide virtual programming and tools to empower caregivers who support service members and veterans across the United States and around the world. 

Serving military families is a priority for RCI, which launched its signature military program, Operation Family Caregiver (OFC), nearly 7 years ago. OFC provides free and confidential  coaching to help the families of returning service members and veterans develop new skills that make the difficult decisions they face feel more manageable and achievable. The program is tailored to the unique needs of military families. It helps caregivers find strength through their journey, so they feel fully capable of living their best lives, regardless of what life throws at them.  

“When the brave men and women of our military are called to serve, they do not serve alone. Caregivers help service members and veterans to deal with the physical, mental, and emotional wounds associated with military service,” said Dr. Jennifer Olsen, RCI’s Executive Director. “I am so grateful to our partners at Caregivers on the Homefront, RallyPoint, and the MVCN for their leadership to empower caregivers across the United States.” 

Caregivers on the Homefront provides in-person and, now increasingly, online support groups, educational workshops, and mental health and wellness restorative weekends for caregivers of veterans and active servicemembers. In response to COVID-19, Caregivers on the Homefront has also sent out care packages to caregivers, including masks, hand sanitizer, and self-care items, and is preparing to offer mental health counseling – in-person and virtually – starting by June 1. 

“Like so many military spouses, I’m proud to support and provide care to my husband, a 23-year Army veteran who served his country with distinction. But as rewarding as caregiving can be, it can also be challenging and lonely,” said Shawn Moore, founder and executive director of Caregivers on the Homefront. “I started Caregivers on the Homefront to provide the kind of resources, support, and connection that I thought was missing as a new caregiver, and it’s amazing to see our network continue to grow stronger through partnerships like this one.” 

At the same time Shawn launched Caregivers on the Homefront, she completed Operation Family Caregiver herself, working with an OFC coach who helped her put things in perspective and move forward. Among OFC’s greatest assets are the resources that coaches provide to caregivers. RallyPoint and the MVCN are also excellent resources for the military community, providing social outlets through their digital networking platforms.   

RallyPoint is an online community open to military servicemembers, veterans, family members, supporters, and caregivers, providing a peer-to-peer support network 24 hours a day. Members can ask and answer questions, share information and resources, and talk about the challenges and opportunities their community faces. During COVID-19, RallyPoint is now a hub for information sharing related to the pandemic.   

Operation Family Caregiver, a veteran-focused program at RCI, has its own presence on the RallyPoint platform, where program participants can connect, and everyone can learn more about OFC. OFC participants have a direct online sign-up option for RallyPoint.  

“RallyPoint is a virtual meeting place for veterans, active servicemembers, military families and friends, and a growing number of caregivers,” said Dave Gowel, a U.S. Army veteran and CEO of RallyPoint. “Our mission is to help all members of the military community lead more successful and fulfilling lives, and that is made possible, in part, through building a strong, resilient community of support. In RallyPoint, caregivers – including those joining us from RCI – will find that community.” 

The MVCN also offers peer-based support for military and veteran caregivers of all eras through an online community. An initiative of the American Red Cross, MVCN was developed to reduce social isolation amongst caregivers, a challenge many caregivers face, even more so now during the COVID-19 public health crisis. To help users connect virtually, the MVCN provides Zoom Caregiver Connection groups and virtual Red Cross Caregiver Workshops, as well as weekly peer support groups and weekly self-care sessions.  

“Since the start of this pandemic, the MVCN has seen an increase in participation across all of our online offerings, which speaks to the tremendous need being felt in our community,” said Melissa Comeau, the MVCN Director. “Now, perhaps more than ever, our military and veteran caregivers need a safe place to connect, share their experiences, and access resources and supports. The MVCN is that home base for our caregivers, and we’re excited to partner with Operation Family Caregiver at RCI to ensure that even more caregivers can access these services.”  

OFC to Provide Sesame Street Materials for Military Kids

Rosalynn Carter Institute, Sesame Workshop Reporting for Duty to Support Military Kids

New Partnership Will Provide Targeted Materials to Families Enrolled in Operation Family Caregiver

AMERICUS, GA – The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) and Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, today announced they have teamed up to support caregiving military and veteran families with young children in a new way.

Together, RCI and Sesame Workshop are delivering targeted Sesame Street resources to families with young children through Operation Family Caregiver (OFC), RCI’s signature military caregiving program. OFC provides free and confidential coaching, either virtually or in person, to help caregivers  build the skills they need to cope with unforeseen challenges more effectively. Tailored to the unique needs of military families, the research-based resources created by Sesame Workshop include videos, articles, and activities that look at family-based care from a child’s perspective. Sesame Workshop’s resources have now been fully integrated into OFC; coaches receive ongoing training and guidance about how and when to incorporate them into  sessions with caregivers

“Our founder Rosalynn Carter learned about the stress and isolation of family caregiving at age 13 when her father passed away,” said Dr. Jennifer Olsen, executive director of RCI. “She also experienced the challenges of raising young children when her husband was on active duty in the U.S. Navy. It is because of her dedication to supporting family caregivers that we are proud to partner with Sesame Workshop.”

Sesame Workshop’s Family Caregiving materials were designed to help children understand why their parent may look or act differently than “before,” how to safely express complicated or confusing feelings, how their parent’s illness or injury can change over time, and how to describe their family’s new situation to themselves and others. For adults, the initiative offers guidance on “re-learning” how to parent while needing care or filling a new caregiver role. More information is available on the Sesame Street in Communities website.

“We know the needs of families navigating loved ones’ care are tremendous,” said Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President, US Social Impact. “We are delighted to collaborate with RCI to make sure the youngest members of caregiving families are taken care of, too. We want every caregiving parent and child to know that they’re not alone, and that asking for help is always a brave thing to do.”

To date, OFC has helped more than 1,000 families, with caregivers who complete the program reporting reduced depression, fewer health complaints, increased satisfaction with life, and increased confidence in their ability to take care of their families; participants with young families reported  a decrease in children’s anxiety, too. With this new partnership, RCI and Sesame Workshop are collecting critical data to help both organizations refine their programs to be even more impactful.

Sign-up for Operation Family Caregiver.

OFC to Support Families Affected by Hurricane Harvey

Caregiver Coaching Program to Support Military Families Affected by Hurricane Harvey 

Bob Woodruff Foundation and Qatar Harvey Fund Support Expansion of Operation Family Caregiver into Texas Gulf Coast

October 16, 2019 – AMERICUS, GA – The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) announced today that its signature military caregiving program, Operation Family Caregiver (OFC), will serve military families in the Gulf Coast of Texas, an area still recovering from the impact of Hurricane Harvey, which struck with astounding force in August 2017. OFC provides support to the families of returning service members and veterans. The expansion to this area of the country is supported by a grant awarded by the Bob Woodruff Foundation, which has partnered with the Qatar Harvey Fund to support veterans affected by Hurricane Harvey.

“The Bob Woodruff Foundation has been a committed and powerful partner,” said RCI’s executive director Dr. Jennifer Olsen, “With their continual support, we have expanded our support to military caregivers. We are so pleased to benefit from the foundation’s partnership with the Qatar Harvey Fund and to be able to explore how OFC can help caregivers whose lives have been upended not only by the challenge of caring for a loved one but magnified by a natural disaster.” 

The Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) has been an ongoing supporter of OFC and enabled the program’s expansion into the state of Washington in 2017. With this latest grant, BWF and the Qatar Harvey Fund allow OFC to explore further how additional stressors such as national disasters, can exacerbate the challenges faced by military families, and how support systems like OFC can help. 

Since its launch in 2013, OFC has helped more than 1,000 families across the country. After completing the OFC program, caregivers are less depressed and more satisfied with their lives, have fewer health complaints, and are generally more prepared to take care of their families. Caregivers have also reported statistically significant reductions in anxiety among children in the household after completion of the program.

RCI and ALS Association of GA Announce Partnership

Rosalynn Carter Institute and the ALS Association of Georgia Announce Partnership

New Partnership will support those who care for people living with ALS in Georgia

August 1, 2019 – Americus, GA – The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) and The ALS Association of Georgia announced today that the two groups are creating a unique partnership to support those that care for people living with ALS in Georgia. Together the groups will help caregivers with their physical and mental well-being and teach them skills to navigate the challenges of their loved one’s illness.

“ALS is an illness that has an increasing toll on the caregiver as they watch their loved one develop the symptoms of the disease. By extending our programs to ALS caregivers, we continue to fulfill the RCI mission of helping more caregivers in more places but also offer these selfless people support and tools that will help them manage their caregiving journey,” said Dr. Jennifer Olsen, executive director of RCI. “Beyond the direct support of the caregiver, this partnership will help RCI shape our programs to better serve ALS caregivers as well as other neurodegenerative disease caregivers.”

As noted by Sarah Embro, Executive Director of The ALS Association of Georgia, “in alignment with our mission to provide resources and community support services to families living with ALS, we are excited about our new partnership with RCI to provide evidence-based care and support, programming specific to the needs of caregivers of people living with ALS.   Recognizing the needs of caregivers is one aspect of the Georgia Chapter’s holistic care services programming, and this partnership with RCI further strengthens the support we can provide.”

The partnership centers around supporting caregivers for those with ALS using the RCI programs Caring for You, Caring for Me and Operation Family Caregiver,  increasing awareness of the services offered by RCI for all caregivers, and information-sharing to help RCI tailor their programs to address the specific needs of caregivers for people living with ALS.

Operation Family Caregiver coaches family and friends of returning service members and veterans to manage difficult transitions. Veterans are twice as likely to be diagnosed with  ALS as the general public.

The partnership includes:

  • Caring for You, Caring for Me. RCI will train ALS Association of Georgia facilitators to deliver this 10-hour program, which addresses the needs of caregivers by bringing them together in a relaxed setting to discuss common issues, share ideas, and gain a better understanding of each other’s perspective on what it means to be a caregiver for someone living with ALS. The goals of Caring for You, Caring for Me are for caregivers to have the opportunity to:
    •  Gain information on various topics related to caregiving
    • Learn ways of coping with the stresses and strains of being a caregiver
    • Learn what resources are available locally, regionally and nationally
    • Discover ways of working together to reduce frustrations and barriers in the caregiving experience
    • Share common concerns and issues
  • A research partnership that will help RCI determine how to adapt the program specifically to ALS. RCI will fund a graduate fellow to do caregiver specific research on the ALS population.
  • In the longer-term, RCI and The ALS Association of Georgia are hoping to tailor another of RCI’s signature programs, Dealing with Dementia, to the ALS population.
  • RCI and The ALS Association of Georgia will work to support military ALS families through the Operation Family Caregiver program. Veterans are twice as likely to be diagnosed with ALS than the general population.
  • The two organizations will share information with each other’s communities and work together to shine a spotlight on ALS caregivers.

Support for Military Families Expands to El Paso

Support for Military Families Expands to El Paso, Texas

Program Reduces Stress Among Caregivers of Service Members and Veterans

September 1, 2019 — AMERICUS, GEORGIA — The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) is pleased to announce that Operation Family Caregiver (OFC), its program supporting military families, will now be supporting families of veterans and service members in El Paso, Texas.

Operation Family Caregiver is a proven, evidence-based program that provides support to the families of returning service members and veterans. Specially-trained coaches teach military families the skills they need to overcome unforeseen challenges and cope more effectively with problems they never imagined. Caregivers who have completed the program report being less depressed and more satisfied with their lives, have fewer health complaints, and are generally more prepared to take care of their families. Those caregivers who are parents also report reduced anxiety among their child or children. 

Last fall, RCI announced a landmark agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish three new OFC sites functioning in partnership with VA medical centers. In El Paso, the program is located at the El Paso VA Health Care System. In a move from Tucson, Arizona, to El Paso, the new coach will be working with caregivers in the area referred by the El Paso VA, as well as military spouses and other caregivers from across the country via phone or video conference. In addition to the new OFC site in Texas, OFC serves military families at VA facilities in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Central Texas. This expansion was made possible by the generous support of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation

Texas was a natural location for OFC’s expansion, which has helped nearly 1,000 families since its launch in 2012. According to a report from the Texas Workforce Investment Council that was updated in 2019, Texas has the second-largest veteran population in the country, with just over 1.46 million veterans, or 7.0 percent of the state’s population age 18 and older. In El Paso County, the veteran population was more than 66,000 in 2017. Approximately 17 percent of the Texas veteran population is Hispanic, and the new coach will be able to provide support in both Spanish and English.

“Being able to seek help in one’s preferred language makes a huge difference in the level of comfort,” said Dr. Jennifer Olsen, RCI’s executive director. “We have made a concerted effort to deliver Operation Family Caregiver to Spanish-speaking families, and we’re so happy to be able to do so with this expansion to El Paso.”