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For Women Taking Care of Disabled Veterans, A Welcome Break

Women Helping Veterans
John Ismay
Dozens of women who take care of military veteran spouses got to take a break Saturday morning at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall in downtown Los Angeles. The event offered day care, arts and crafts, mindfulness training, and free massages.

For many women in Los Angeles, taking care of a disabled spouse is a full-time job.

And on Saturday morning, more than 80 women got together in the basement of Bob Hope Patriotic Hall downtown to take a little bit of a break from being a caregiver. Each of them was a military veteran, or was taking care of a veteran spouse or significant other.

"Traditionally women are caregivers," said Lauren Duncan, who works for the Red Cross, and helped set up the event with the Department of Veterans Affairs. "So it’s hard for us to admit, you know, 'I need someone to care for me'."

In order to give the women some free time, volunteers ran a day care room on-site to take care of children.

Non-profits were there to offer help with employment, housing, and educational needs – the kind of help Duncan said can be difficult for some caregivers to ask for.

One group offered mindfulness training as a way to handle stress, as well as free massages.

The massage brought Kyle Orlemann to tears.

"I haven’t had anybody so something like that for me for so long that I can’t even find the words," she said. "We don’t get to stand down ever. We’re on alert 24 - 7, 365."

Orlemann's husband served two tours in Vietnam, and is now disabled as a result of his military service. She takes care of him full-time, and as a result she can't have a job outside the home.

Lauren Duncan said it was important to reach out to these women, who often don't have any time for themselves.

"We wanted to just reach out to this group that is usually underrepresented but in the highest need just to let them know we love them, appreciate them….and want to love on them."

Duncan says the event was so successful, she hopes to do it again next year.

Veterans and Military Issues Reporter