Caregiver Compensation for Injured Veterans

There was a recent article in the New York Times about families of disabled veterans seeking compensation for there roles as caregivers.  Because of better medical technology, many more soldiers have survived serious wounds they received in Iraq and Afghanistan.  According to the Dole-Shalala Commission, in 2007, there were over 3000 recently disabled veterans who required full-time clinical and care-management services.

As the father of a daughter who has spent the last 16 months at the bedside of her severely wounded Marine, I worry about Erin and Sam’s future.  Will Erin need to get a job in order to pay their bills? Eventually Sam will be retired from the Marines and I’m sure will be considered 100 percent disabled.  Will Erin become his full-time caregiver?  During Sam’s stay at the Palo Alto VA hospital, Erin met many wives and mothers of wounded soldiers who had to quit their jobs to be with their wounded veteran.

During the last session of Congress, veterans groups and families asked lawmakers to introduce legislation that would allow families of wounded soldiers with traumatic brain injury who complete training and certification with the VA to be paid for the caregiver services they provide.  The bill has not come up for vote yet, but because President-elect Barack Obama has endorsed many other bills that support veterans’ issues, it is possible the bill will have a greater change for passage in the next congressional session.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

Sam’s medical status:

When Sam was a small boy, much like his brothers, he had an unusually adventurous spirit and very little fear. Naturally when you have a kids that embrace life and aggressively approach sporting and play activity; there are resulting injuries. I remember once, while on vacation and immediately following lunch at a Taco Bell, Sam (maybe 6 or 7 years old) was jumping off a bench…sure enough he cracked his head and we spent the next 4 hours in the emergency room while he received a half dozen stitches. Another time (at about 5 years old) he was playing with a wooden dowel that we used as additional security for a sliding glass door; and as he jumped over it, he landed on the end of it. Although he missed all of the vital areas, again we saw the inside of the emergency room with the addition of more stitches to a nasty gash. He was more embarrassed than he was hurt, as his brothers were relentless with names like “Sam-on-a-Stick” or “Sam-cicle”…Ha! I believe that it is this same adventurous spirit that led him to enlist in the Marines, after successfully finishing one year of college. He was bound and determined to return after his tour and return to college and He and Erin had already enrolled and been accepted to the University of Nevada at Reno. At the time, Erin was interested in teaching, (now that interest has turned to speech therapy) and Sam was interested in business. This was solely to prepare himself, as his interest was to open a restaurant/bar with exotic sandwiches (He and Erin had already developed several great sandwiches by experimenting in their kitchen) and super advanced video games dealing with virtual reality. It is this kind of desire for an out of the ordinary life that make them fabulously interesting people. Although their lives may have been steered in another direction; I firmly believe that they will have many adventures ahead of them and WILL fulfill them in God’s good timing. In fact, I would state that this experience will heighten their lives as they apply lesson after lesson, and for the benefit of others. Thank you Lord; for the lessons you’ve taught us all in Sam and Erin’s lives…

Nov_12_08_Kentfield This update finds Sam once again in Marin General Hospital, in a medical unit after being admitted through an emergency procedure. His “Port” had become infected. This a line inserted in his shoulder a few months ago, that goes to the big arteries in his chest. It is for easily administering medications and from which to draw blood. Sam is what is referred to as a “hard stick”, meaning he has underground veins. We’ve seen him get stuck up to 10 times before they call for the best (most experienced) person to come and get the blood they need. More antibiotics; Ugh! In addition, he was prescribed a new anti-convulsant after being weaned off of the 4 others he was receiving. It made him temporarily groggy, but Erin reports he is becoming accustomed to it and back to his old self. I saw him twice this week and both days he seemed alert as to all that was going on around him, but chose to relax by keeping his eyes closed. One thing I’m very excited about is their determination to get to the bottom of his recurring UTI’s. He is not going back to Kentfield until that is accomplished. His next stop is the Urology department at the University of San Francisco for a consultation on a surgery to explore (by scope) to try and locate the shrapnel they believe the culprit of his recurring infections. I say it is high time, and am positive it is God’s leading that sends them there. This too will soon be past them and back on the road to recovery. As I spoke to Erin on the phone yesterday to receive the very latest news; Sam wanted to know to whom she was talking. When he found it was me, he wanted to take the phone and talk to me. He said he felt good when asked, and then gave me a resounding Oohh-Rah! He also told me something that we couldn’t make out, but it was just good to hear him use his voice and try to speak out loud. Of course he said, “I Love You, Dad” and for some reason I never have trouble making that one out. Erin said it was the most he had said out loud all day…Donny and Sam had always agreed that they would be each other’s best man at their weddings, so I was testing his memory to find out if he remembered that was approaching, and asked him who was the best man? He pointed at me…don’t ya just love this kid?

Much Love,
Eric

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12 Responses to Caregiver Compensation for Injured Veterans

  1. Lori Peoria says:

    Sam truly has the best caregiver… Erin! Oohh-Rah Sam & Erin!!!!

  2. Patricia Wheeler says:

    There is a program called the Family Caregiver Program that you all need to check on throught the Area Agency on Aging. (Services are for Seniors [60+] and severly disabled). Sacramento’s phone number is 486-1876. This may help.

  3. Bena Fabian says:

    AS ALWAYS, I AM MOVED AND UPLIFTED BY ALL OF YOUR POSTINGS. YOU ARE ALL IN MY DAILY PRAYERS ALONG WITH ALL THE PURPLE HEART FAMILIES. GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

  4. Hello Sam, Erin & all…

    Sorry we haven’t been posting much lately, we’ve been on the road performing for our vets & troops, but, as always … never forgetting to lift Sam, Erin & you alll up in prayer.

    Bless you for all the updates on Sam! It blesses our hearts to “see” Sam, the photos give us all so much to be thankful for, especially this time of the year & the love that shines through both your eyes just can’t be measured!

    God is working, and, we just pray the docs will find the cause of these infections soon & Sam continue to heal.

    You know, people ask me all the time, “why” do you do what you do, we half kill ourselves physically, use even single dime of our money & ALL of our time … flying in/out of town, event after event, memorial after memorial, funeral after funeral & the list goes on & on.

    One VERY simple reason, I/WE … OWE … everything to these young men & women of our military who step forward, risking their lives for us & Freedom.

    I only wish I could do more, but, that’s when God takes over … Sam, you’re in HIS hands, and, no doubt…God is directing your & Erin’s path for the future, HE has incredible things ahead for you both!

    Wish we could be there with you all, give you a big hug, pray with you … just know that you are constantly in our thoughts & prayers! Keep the faith !!!

    “Praying for Sam” … ALWAYS!!!!!

    In Christ,

    Susan D. Wiseman – ” The Tribute Lady ”
    http://www.TheTributeLady.com

  5. Kris Abbruzzi says:

    Hey there Sam, Erin & Families!

    Just stopping by to let you all know that every single day you are all in my thoughts and my prayers. And you ALWAYS will be. So sorry to hear that you’re back at Marin, Sam, but I have full faith that the root cause of this will be found at USF and eradicated — and I second the notion that He is most certainly leading you there!

    I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving together. We all have so much to be thankful for, and I thank you all – Nichols and Neria Families – for helping me realize even more how much I have to be thankful for. God bless you all and may He continue to give you all the strength, peace and comfort that you need each day and more. You are all true American Heroes, you are all just incredible, you all inspire me and so many others every single day. Thank you all and God bless you all.

    And keeping my fingers, toes and anything else that crosses crossed that the Caregiver Compensation bill passes. It is only right!!! Saying extra prayers!!

    – Kris, a Soldiers’ Angel from RI

  6. HELLO again!! So my mom, Patty, just sent me this link the other day, and I checked it out, and couldn’t believe the chances of this! I knew you guys had a blog going…but this one is just out of this world! But you guys said you were headed up north, and I’m actually back up at Palo Alto, doing the PTRP (Polytruama Transitional Rehab Program program!!!)

  7. julie morelli says:

    Happy Thanksgiving ( a couple of days late) Sam, Erin, Eric, Tony and families. We are so thankful for all of you. I will be praying they find that shrapnel and get rid of the source of the infections once and for all. God bless you all and thank you for these updates. They are informative and inspiring to say the least. Continued prayers.

    julie morelli
    soldiers’ angels

  8. Wendy says:

    Hi Sam & Erin!
    I pray this blog finds you both full of encouragement, strength and faith. You two were on my list of people and lives I am thankful for during the Thanksgiving season.
    I was so happy and grateful to have finally been able to meet the two beautiful and inspiring people I have been writing to! You are so special and dear to my heart. Erin, you are a doll and an incredible role model for all wives. You are beautiful, both inside and out, and a tremendous blessing to Sam, to your friends & family, as well as to all who meet or read about you! Sam, you have the most beautiful and clear blue eyes I have ever seen and I consider it an honor and privelege to have met you . Thank you for serving our country and for allowing me to pray with you. I loved our communication and watching you reach out! Your strength and courage are a catalyst to my faith. Thank you for fighting, enduring and perservering while you make strides in your progress.
    I believe in and mix my faith with you two and with all who are praying for Sam, as we are seeing his complete and total restoration, Praise God! I rejoice in the miracles thus far in Sam’s life as well as for the ones that are on the way. I pray for a pain free path and an increase in communication for you. Erin, your ability to be so creative, to draw Sam out is very impressive; I loved how quickly he responds to your name and your voice. It’s no wonder, after meeting you, why he is so responsive to God and to you.
    What a privelege and delight to have met you both. I look forward to more time with you in the future. Please let me know, if at any time, you would have any needs or special prayer requests, as I would be honored to help or pray.
    I pray for you both and that at all times you feel God’s love and warm embraces.
    With love and blessings,
    Wendy

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