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Support for Veterans and their Caregivers

U.S. Army Veteran Barry and his wife and caregiver Laurel
“To know they are there for me as the caregiver is so comforting. It’s great to have a built-in support system.” – Lauren Beitsinger, Family Caregiver

Laurel is the primary caregiver for her husband Barry, a U.S. Army Veteran who served as a combat medic in Vietnam. Laurel does not like to call caregiving a “job” and she wants to be the one there for her husband, but she admits it is very difficult, especially at age 74.

After her husband of 50 years took a devastating fall last Christmas, Laurel Beitsinger found herself living a true nightmare – a husband with life-threatening medical issues who needed care more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to a few phone calls, Laurel ended up being introduced to the Butler VA’s Caregiver Support program. Without the people in the program and the knowledge she gained from them, she is not sure she would have made it through such a challenging time.

Laurel is the primary caregiver for her husband Barry, a U.S. Army Veteran who served as a combat medic in Vietnam. Laurel does not like to call caregiving a “job” and she wants to be the one there for her husband, but she admits it is very difficult, especially at age 74.

“The Butler VA Caregiver Support program is so wonderful. Some people just do their jobs, these people care. It’s a different feeling here. They really care about helping the caregiver as well as the Veteran,” said Laurel. “To know they are there for me as the caregiver is so comforting. It’s great to have a built-in support system.”

The Butler VA offers a number of services to support caregivers and the Veterans they care for whether it's in-home help, someone to listen, or anything in between.

“Once a month, at least, there’s something going on to support us as caregivers. I have never seen anything like this in the public sector,” said Laurel. “And, they are always there for me. I just need to call and ask. If they don’t know, they find out and call me back.”

Recently, the Butler VA held a Caregiver Resource Fair and Laurel was able to attend knowing her husband was in good care at the VA while she went. She especially enjoyed the virtual reality activity available at the event for caregivers.

 “My husband and I loved going to the beach. Because of his physical problems now, it would be too difficult to go. But I put on those goggles and they put in the virtual reality, and I felt like I was at the beach watching the waves.”

Laurel spent much of her career as a nurse, yet jokes that caregiving is perhaps her toughest assignment yet. “Sometimes you’re just mentally and physically worn out. It’s comforting to know we have this wrap-around service at the Butler VA.”

If you’re a caregiver for a Veteran, you can get support by contacting the Butler VA. Call 878-271-6174 or visit www.va.gov/butler-health-care/health-services/caregiver-program/ to learn more today.

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