Family members and others who look after veterans in southwestern Iowa have a new support group and outlet. Will Ackerman, spokesman for the V-A Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System, says the program aims to become another helpful tool for the caregivers of veterans.
Ackerman says, “It’s a free, monthly, 90-minute, confidential workshop for families and friends of veterans who have mental health illnesses. He says the informative sessions will help those who are close to veterans learn how to be of best service to their loved one.
“The whole purpose of this is to help those family and friends learn more about the signs and symptoms, learn how they can be good caregivers, learn about medications and treatments,” Ackerman says.
“Another big part of it is to receive emotional support and encouragement because the caregivers, the family members, are the ones that have to be the bedrock for the veterans themselves.” Ackerman says families are often the first line of defense when a veteran family member is in need of help.
“A lot of times, the family and friends are going to be the first ones to notice that there’s a little bit of a change in the veteran, maybe they’re acting differently or they’re emotionally having some problems,” Ackerman says. “They’re often the first ones that will notice these signs and symptoms and will encourage the veteran to get assessed for mental health treatment.”
Ackerman says free workshops will be held the third Tuesday of every month at the Omaha V-A office and at the Shenandoah V-A clinic via videoconference. The V-A Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System serves more than 167,000 veterans both states and in parts of Kansas and Missouri.