Operation Family Caregiver (OFC) will serve military veterans and their families in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. –Riverside is pleased to bring the Operation Family Caregiver Program, an evidence-based program of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI), to Virginia.

The OFC program in Virginia is a collaboration between the Riverside Center for Excellence in Aging and Lifelong Health (CEALH) and the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program (VWWP), a program of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS). The program will be offered in two regions of the state: Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia, which together are home to more than 425,000 veterans.

Operation Family Caregiver (OFC) is a proven, evidence-based program that provides support to the families of newly returning service members and veterans. It is free, confidential, and tailored to each individual family. It is the only program like it serving military families. Since 2001, the United States has sent more than 2.5 million men and women to Iraq and Afghanistan, and more than 50,000 have been wounded. Beyond those visible injuries, nearly one-third of returning service members have a mental health condition or experienced a traumatic brain injury.

"It is our privilege to bring a proven program like Operation Family Caregiver to these regions which are home to large and continually growing active duty and veteran populations," said Christy Jensen, Director of Health Services Research for Riverside CEALH and Master Trainer for the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving. "Caregivers have an immeasurable impact on the lives of those they assist, but their hours are long and their work is hard. Many put their own lives on hold to lift up someone close to them."

Jensen, who earned her PhD in Human Development and Family Studies, also manages Riverside CEALH's "Caring For You, Caring  For Me" program. The program consists of five weekly caregiving education seminars designed to address needs of those engaged in caring for older adults and was modeled after the Rosalynn Carter Institute's (RCI) program. In 2013, Riverside CEALH received statewide recognition for the impact the "Caring For You, Caring For Me" program made on hundreds of program graduates and thousands of families across the Commonwealth and was awarded the Best Practice Award by the Commonwealth Council on Aging.

"Our military has been on the battlefield for longer than ever before, and there are consequences to that," said RCI's executive director Dr. Leisa Easom. "When they come home, especially with injuries, they lean heavily on their husbands and wives, parents, battle buddies, whoever can help take care of them. And that takes a lot out of a person. Being a caregiver is not easy."

Since its launch, OFC has helped more than 150 caregivers from across the country. Caregivers who have completed the program report being less depressed and more satisfied with their lives, have fewer health complaints, and are generally more prepared to take care of their families.

"Riverside is excited to offer this program in partnership with the Virginia Wounded Warriors Program," said Dr. Kyle Allen, Medical Director for Riverside Lifelong Health. "CEALH is committed to transforming the lives of people in the communities we serve through innovative programs like Operation Family Caregiver, and Riverside Health System is particularly proud of the work that has been done through CEALH to care for others as we would care for those we love."

For more information on Operation Family Caregiver, visit www.excellenceinaging.org or call 757-220-4751.

ABOUT OPERATION FAMILY CAREGIVER (OFC):

Operation Family Caregiver launched in 2012 with catalytic funding from Johnson &Johnson. After an initial pilot launch in 2012, it has expanded in each subsequent year and earlier this year announced a partnership with Blue Star Families that will add two additional sites. With the latest expansion, Operation Family Caregiver will be serving military families in 12 locations, including Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia, by the beginning of next year.

Related:

  • Riverside Center for Excellence in Aging and Lifelong Health (CEALH)

 

Published: September 25, 2015