Military Caregiving–The Essence of Communication


The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. –George Bernard Shaw

Lack of communication can be an underlying problem in caregiving relationships with their wounded warriors, health care providers and family and friends. While you are unable to fully treat your service member’s injury as a caregiver, you are able to improve the rehabilitation process through effective communication.

Through the course of your caregiving journey you must rely on your communication skills with your loved one to obtain and share information, grow and adapt to change, to understand your warrior’s needs, and to stay connected with others.

Communicating with your wounded warrior

According to the Journal of Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy, communication is significant to your long-term relationship with one another. Caregiving demands can make it difficult to balance other roles of being a husband, wife, partner or parent. Do not be afraid to ask questions for fear of offending your service member. Talking about your concerns with your wounded warrior offers support and provides an opportunity to reassure each other.

  • Allow each other to talk about what you are feeling
  • Share the things you each do to cope with overwhelming emotions
  • Identify topics that are stressful for you
  • Try to not judge each other
  • Discuss issues of intimacy
  • Talk with a counselor or clergy member
  • Protect your time together
  • Talk about hopes that you each have for the future

Communicating with Health Care Providers

Medical appointments can be stressful. It is important to learn about your warrior’s medical conditions and understand the information you receive. Preparing for an appointment ahead of time can help you, your family member and his/her health care providers obtain important information you each need.

  • Jot down key questions or points you want to discuss with the doctor.
  • Keep a folder of your family member’s medical information. Bring it to each visit.
  • Talk to the doctor or nurse case manager about your worries.
  • Report any major changes you observe in your service member’s symptoms, mood, abilities or daily activities.
  • Take notes during medical visits.
  • Meet with your service member’s Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) and their Triad of Care or health care team to discuss ‘next steps’ in the Comprehensive Transition Plan (CTP) or care plan.

Communicating with family and friends

You may feel alone in your caregiving duties and that no one else understands. Asking for help is not easy but it may be the best way for you to stay healthy and continue giving care. Help others to understand by letting them know what they can do to help out–and how often you want their assistance.

Be honest about what you can and cannot do. Think about all the things you do each day. What tasks can others do to free up some of your time or to ease your work load?

  • Fix a meal
  • Clean
  • Run errands
  • Do yard work
  • Provide childcare
  • Help with finances
  • Give you opportunities to talk or share feelings
  • Drive family members to appointments

Caregiving can be both challenging and satisfying. Learning how to effectively communicate is the essential building-blocks to your journey ahead.

If you are a veteran caregiver, what advice could you offer to our younger generation of caregivers to improve their relationships with their wounded warriors?