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Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving Expands Signature Support Program: Operation Family Caregiver

By   /   November 12, 2013  /   Comments

Special to the Journal

AMERICUS, GA (Nov. 11, 2013) — Recognizing the great challenges faced by returning military service members and their families, Johnson & Johnson has expanded its funding of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving’s (RCI) Operation Family Caregiver program, which offers support to family caregivers of service members.

Since 2001, more than 30 percent of the 2.4 million active duty and reserve military personnel deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have returned home suffering from mental and physical disabilities. Many spouses, siblings, and parents are thrust into the unexpected role of caregiver when their loved one comes home. The needs of these caregivers, who must take care of their own physical and emotional well-being, maintain social ties, and avoid isolation, frequently go unmet while they care for family.

“We recognize that caregivers often put aside their own needs because they are committed to dealing with what may feel like the more pressing needs of loved ones,” said Sharon K. D’Agostino, vice president, corporate citizenship at Johnson & Johnson. “This program helps family caregivers acquire the skills necessary to cope with the daily challenges they face.”

Operation Family Caregiver is pioneering caregiver support in Johnstown, Pa., where it began in 2012. The program helps families of returning service members coping with health issues like traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress and physical disability.

The support of Johnson & Johnson will help to add new program sites in three areas of the country with high concentrations of military families: San Diego, Calif., Killeen, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y. The program will be implemented at each of these sites by a local nonprofit organization with expertise in providing services to family caregivers.

Operation Family Caregiver is an evidence-based, personalized four to six month program offered either in-home, by telephone, or via Skype. Family caregivers learn problem-solving skills that help empower them to cope more effectively with issues related to caregiving. Operation Family Caregiver has been proven to diminish depression, reduce health complaints, and lessen burden and anxiety in family caregivers.
“We know there is a huge need as the number of military families grows,” said Leisa Easom, Ph.D., RCI executive director. “The proven interventions of Operation Family Caregiver lend support to the White House’s Joining Forces Initiative.”

Joining Forces is a national initiative led by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden to mobilize all sectors of society to give service members and their families opportunities and support. The expansion of Operation Family Caregiver will enable RCI to reach more families with the support they need to be strong and effective caregivers to their service members.

- GSW -

About the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving

Located in Americus, Ga., the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving is a division of Georgia Southwestern State University. The RCI was established in 1987 in honor of former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, a GSW alumna who serves as president of the Institute’s Board of Directors, to enhance her longstanding commitments to family caregiving and mental health.

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