Member of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (Old Guard), guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery. (Photo By Col. (Ret.) Edna W. Cummings, U.S. Army)

By Edna W. Cummings, Col. (Ret.) U.S. Army
Army Reserve Ambassador, Maryland

November launches the holiday season as a time to fellowship with families and friends by celebrating Thanksgiving and preparing for several December observances. This year, Veterans Day, Nov. 11, also marks the centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Since 1921, the Tomb has provided a final resting place for one of America’s unidentified World War I service members. Unknowns from later wars were added in 1958 and 1984.

During November, our nation also recognizes military families and caregivers. 

This year, President Biden proclaimed November 2021 as National Veterans and Military Families Month. In his remarks, he offered “gratitude to millions of service members, veterans, military families, caregivers and survivors who have served and continue to serve our Nation.”

National Family Caregivers Month recognizes and honors families and caregivers across the country. It offers an opportunity to raise awareness of caregiving issues, educate communities, and increase support for caregivers.

If you are a spouse, parent, family member, child, loved one, friend, or neighbor who helps take care of a veteran at home, please take a moment to think about what you could do with the gift of time. Organizations such as the Elizabeth Dole Foundation (202) 249-7170) offers some respite relief for caregivers. 

The Department of Veterans Affairs Caregiver Support Program has two programs for family caregivers in supporting the health and wellness of veterans. (855-260-3274).

The Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers offers support and services for family caregivers of eligible veterans who were seriously injured in the line of duty during certain time periods and meets other eligibility requirements. 

The Program of General Caregiver Support Services offers resources, education, and support available to caregivers of eligible veterans from all eras. For this program, the veterans do not need to have a service-connected condition, for which the caregiver is needed, and may have served during any era. A formal application is not required.

With suicide rates increasing among active-duty troops and veterans, I encourage veterans, families, and loved ones to ask for help for themselves or others. If you are a veteran in crisis or concerned about one, call (1-800-273-8255 and press 1) or send a text to 838255. 

Continue to support our veterans but remember– never go at it alone.

Colonel Edna W. Cummings [(Ret.) U.S. Army], is an Army Reserve Ambassador in Maryland.

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