In 2012, President Obama proclaimed November as National Family Caregivers Month. It read, in part, “Family members, friends, and neighbors devote countless hours to providing care to their relatives or loved ones. National Family Caregivers Month is a time to reflect on the compassion and dedication that family caregivers embody every day. As we offer our appreciation and admiration for their difficult work, let us also extend our own offers of support to them and their loved ones.” JoelRodriguezBody.jpg

A strong family support system is a blessing at any time, but most especially when you have suffered a life-changing injury.

PVA recognizes that family members most often take on the caregiver role, and they play an important part in the lives of our veterans with spinal cord injuries, disorders, or related diseases. That is why we provide assistance to help care for their well-being, since they are so often concerned with others.

PVA Gulf Coast Chapter member and U.S. Army veteran Joel Rodriguez is surrounded by such helpful and loyal people. He and his family were at the most recent National Veterans Wheelchair Games, the world’s largest annual wheelchair sports event solely for military veterans.

Joel was joined by his wife Liannie, their son, and her parents and sister. All of them, including his mom, live within hours of each other in Florida. And all of them, when they can, travel with him when he attends the Wheelchair Games and other rugby tournaments across the country.

Joel says, "They go with me almost everywhere. If they have the time, they are always there." Liannie, who is a nurse, acknowledges the importance of a good support system to encourage and motivate a loved one going through a life-changing injury. "It makes a huge difference in recovery," she says, while also giving all the credit to Joel for his positive attitude and hard work in getting stronger.

This awesome family not only helps provide emotional support and a great cheer presence at the Wheelchair Games, they also help with the logistical components of traveling with a younger child.

"Between my parents and my sister and his mom we have the most incredible family support system," she says. "Having a kid and traveling and doing sports full time can get busy, but I’m able to help him while they watch my son. They come with us so we can all be together – and it’s really amazing."

If you are a caregiver, remember: 

  • Take time to care for yourself
  • Help is available
  • You are not alone
  • Know your limits
  • Educate yourself on resources and information

Love makes us all stronger. We thank all the loving caregivers who brighten the lives of our veterans.