Veterans are among some of the most at-risk for severe medical complications and contracting COVID-19. Many have been exposed to physically debilitating experiences while serving overseas.
Lake Riverside Estates resident Krystle Hamlett, one of the founders of the nonprofit Caregiver Healing Foundation, Inc., learned this great risk firsthand as she cares for her veteran husband, Sgt. William Hamlett of the United States Marine Corps. He is wheelchair bound.
“Our mission is to provide family support to military and veteran caregivers that are more often than not spouses,” she said. “Military and veteran caregivers often live with their veteran and rarely take time for themselves.”
According to the Hamletts, most spouses’ lives changed forever when their partners were injured overseas. They work hard to ensure their spouses receive the quality care that they rightfully earned. Some spouses also care for their small children while tending their disabled companions.
“Our goal is to provide support to military and veteran caregivers who dedicate their time to attending to the needs of servicemen and women. They spend so much time taking care of their charges that they often forget to look after themselves,” Hamlett said.
With this challenge in mind, the new nonprofit organization decided to make sure these people were provided with self-healing retreats and “Military Caregiver in a Box” self-care packages. The staff is 100% volunteer, and all donations go straight to the programs.
The coronavirus pandemic is causing additional stresses on caregivers and their charges, Krystle Hamlett said.
She said her husband was exposed to many months of burn pits while deployed several times to Iraq. Years later, he started to develop breathing problems and had to have surgery on his throat. Days after surgery, he hemorrhaged from his throat and was rushed to the emergency room where doctors had to cauterize the wound to stop the bleeding.
“We always take extra precautions, no matter what time of year it is, to ensure we don’t expose him to unwanted germs in our home,” Hamlett said. “Now, the routine of myself leaving the home to just get groceries or pick up a prescription has become even more stressful and a longer process to ensure I don’t bring any unwanted germs back inside. I have been wearing a mask since the beginning even when others weren’t.”
Many veterans and their caregivers still have to leave the home to attend medical appointments that they cannot do over video, Hamlett said. Her Caregivers Healing Foundation Inc. saw the need and started sending mask covers to those who are registered with the nonprofit at no cost to the veteran or the caregiver.
The foundation has also partnered with a new organization, called Front Line Appreciation Group of Temecula Valley, that is providing meals to front-line workers during the pandemic crisis and in doing so, supporting local restaurants.
“Jay O’Neill reached out to the Caregivers Healing Foundation, knowing this was something that the nonprofit would want to be a part of,” Hamlett said.
Donations are greatly appreciated as both groups strive to lessen the burdens on both veteran caregivers and the medical staff that they depend on.
To learn more about Front Line Appreciation Group, visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/228060845075328.
Krystle Hamlett may be reached at (760) 637-0635.
Diane Sieker can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.