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Military caregivers: Our 'Hidden Heroes'

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --

A little thank you goes a long way for someone who sacrifices daily to care for the patrons who safeguard our nation and fight for our freedom.

May is the Month of the Military Caregiver. According to the Military Benefits website, the month honors the hidden heroes who take care of our veterans. It may be a spouse whose shoulder an Airman with post-traumatic stress disorder cries on, the best friend who takes his wingman back and forth to physical therapy or the nurse at the Veterans Affairs Hospital.

It is heroic to help others for the sake of helping others, and Erica Tolbert is one of those heroes.

Tolbert, a Veterans Service representative, says “It’s such a great joy when a veteran gets a disability claim approved...I feel like I achieved a goal for the greater good of those who serve!"

As a veteran of the United States Navy, a mother and military caregiver, Tolbert is aware of the sacrifice and dedication required to serve others.

She adopted President Abraham Lincoln’s philosophy when she became a caregiver after 10 years of military service, making it her goal “to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.”

Caregivers are families, friends, nurses, next door neighbors or just good samaritans who decide to dedicate their time and transform their lives to make caring for those who protect us a part of their daily routine. According to the Veterans Affairs website, there are more than 5 million hidden heroes across the nation who play an important role in the health and well-being of our 2.4 million veterans.

Military caregivers face challenges every day. Some of them have no medical training or medical education and are unprepared for the responsibility that is entrusted to them. They may live far from family and loved ones, and some have to put their goals for college or their career on hold to make time for their ward. A sudden change like that can be stressful, life altering and even a shock. Supporting military caregivers with the resources they need is key. There are many government programs available, such as the VA Caregiver Support Line, VA Peer Support Mentoring, Military Veteran Caregiver Network and Wounded Warrior Family Support.

Invisible heroes are everywhere; they are your neighbors, spouses, parents, children, coworkers and more. They are the ones who put forth the effort to bring joy, care, assistance and relief to both past and current service members. Their actions should never go unrecognized.

Give them the thanks they deserve.