Jan 292014

According to Twitterverse, the standing ovation given for Army Ranger Cory Remsburg was the longest recorded in the history of the State of the Union. The President honored Remsburg’s heorism, and the resilience with which he has endured and survived devastating wounds and countless surgeries. The President also honored Remsburg’s father, Craig, a retired Air Force Reserve firefighter, who has cared for his now 30-year old son during his long journey of healing.

We tend to think of heroes as people who perform extraordinary acts of courage to save others from harm—which is what the younger Remsburg did. But we might also think of the more ordinary acts of heroism performed each day by the nation’s family caregivers. Millions of family caregivers, like Craig Remsburg, do everything they can to ensure that another person is able to live, often with and despite grievous injuries, long-term disability, or life-threatening diseases.

Such caregivers are at work every day of the week—often leaving day jobs to stay home and do whatever is needed for a loved one. In doing so, caregivers risk much: their financial security is often compromised, their health is threatened, their emotions are a shambles. Their spirits may be strong, and their willingness to help may be rewarding: But the work is hard, and the work is invisible.

If 2014 is going to be a year in which Americans make things happen to make life better for vulnerable people, let’s be sure to include family caregivers in what we do. Here are some great ideas, courtesy of the Family Caregiver Alliance. Let’s consider policies that support paid time off from work for family caregivers and parents, or better systems to care for people who live with chronic conditions. A grateful nation’s health system would not work without family caregivers, the challenge is to make programs that work for them.

key words: Cory Remsburg, family caregivers, State of the Union

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