I don’t often voice my political opinions on social media and very rarely here on The Heritage Cook, but this is something that touches me deeply and I wanted to share it with you. Support for our nation’s military families transcends politics.
As some of you may know, I come from a military family. My father and one brother graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD and another brother completed Naval OCS training. All three had long and distinguished careers in the U.S. Navy, proudly serving our nation. The next generation is following in the family tradition – one of my nephews flew helicopters in Iraq, another is a JAG lawyer currently stationed in Rhode Island, and my nieces are both military wives.
Last week I was honored to be invited to participate in a conference call with White House staff members from the First Lady’s and Dr. Jill Biden’s offices. They gave us a briefing on an announcement being made the following day and took some questions.
It was fascinating to hear these bright and articulate women sharing some of their own challenges as military wives and caretakers, asking questions on behalf of their family members and making suggestions on ways to improve the current support structure. I was humbled at the daily struggles they endure as their husbands and wives serve overseas for months and years at a time and then come home to a life of mental and physical challenges.
On April 11th Michele Obama, Dr. Jill Biden, Rosalind Carter and Elizabeth Dole celebrated the third anniversary of Joining Forces by announcing an expanded commitment to helping military caregivers. Joining Forces is an initiative to help returning military members with employment resources, education programs and support for those suffering with the repercussions of serving in combat. Mrs. Obama was proud to announce new private and public sector pledges to help the country’s military caregivers.
There are over 5.5 million military caregivers in the United States. These caretakers are the hidden and unsung heroes of our nation. Mrs. Obama said, “The burden that these women and men bear for our country is real. And they shouldn’t have to shoulder all of that alone … We’ve got Republicans and Democrats, we’ve got leaders from business and labor and we’re all coming together to show our military families how much we appreciate them”. Dr. Biden said, “… Their loyalty, love, and devotion is truly inspiring.”
The goal of Joining Forces and the Elizabeth Dole Foundation is to provide support to all military caregivers through peer-to-peer forums at military bases around the world. The will also develop online tools to help caregivers connect to their peers even when they are unable to leave their homes, as well as legal and financial assistance and 10,000 trained peer caregiving mentors.
The Elizabeth Dole Foundation focuses their energies on supporting our nation’s military caregivers who need help for their own mental, physical and financial challenges while caring for wounded warriors suffering from physical injuries and/or invisible wounds of war. The physical and emotional toll on caretakers can create what is known as “secondary PTSD”. In addition, they are working on solutions for dealing with the challenge of who will provide care when military caregivers no longer can do it themselves.
In an odd twist of fate, a recent meeting of the First Lady and a group of military spouses tasked with caretaking of their spouses was held at Ft. Belvoir in Virginia … the same place where my niece celebrated her marriage to her Marine JAG husband. My niece, her sister and their mother all work together to support their father/husband (my oldest brother) a naval veteran suffering with Parkinson’s Disease. Yes, this story is personal on many levels for me.
One of the hardest things to do is to ask for help. Especially when we are expected to be the “strong one” in a relationship or family. But when we share our frustrations and concerns with others in similar situations we gain support, stress relief, and we may gain ideas for ways to better help and support our loved ones. I encourage all caregivers to open up and ask for help. And the resources here can be a starting point.
When I was thinking of ways that we can help the caregivers we know – military or civilian – one of the traditions I grew up with was to share food with others. We shared food when someone was sick, when new babies arrived, we brought food to funerals and church potlucks. Bringing food to help families was a way of life that is slowly disappearing. I hope that you will look to these recipes the next time you have an occasion to offer help to friends.
I asked some of my food blogging friends for recipes they thought were easy to make ahead and deliver to someone in need and I added some of my favorites that families love. Prepare the recipe and deliver it in a disposable container (or something you don’t need returned) so they don’t have to worry about getting the dishes back to you. If you know someone has food allergies or ingredients they must avoid, make those adjustments as needed.
Check these websites to get involved or learn more about the Joining Forces initiative, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, the National Council for Aging Care, or for additional information on caregiver support.
Enjoy these recipes and feel free to share this article with others . . . Thank you for your support.
5 Baked French Toast Casseroles (Plain, Blueberry, Orange, Gingerbread, Cinnamon)
Farmer’s Market Breakfast Egg Casserole (from Shelley Fulton of Two Healthy Kitchens)
Make Ahead Eggs Benedict Casserole (from Amy Flanigan of Very Culinary)
Pumpkin French Toast Casserole (from Amy Flanigan of Very Culinary)
Lunch and Dinner Meals
Baked Ziti (from Michele Feuerborn of Flavor Mosaic)
Better Baked Mac and Cheese (from Sarah Reid of What Smells So Good)
Cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Burgers (from Shelley Fulton of Two Healthy Kitchens)
Cheesy Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta (from Michele Feuerborn of Flavor Mosaic)
Chicken and Spinach Enchiladas (from Tracey Harrelson of The Kitchen is my Playground)
Chicken Tamale Casserole (from Alyssa Brantley of Everyday Maven)
Chicken, Corn & Bell Pepper Enchiladas (from Faith Safarini of An Edible Mosaic)
Crock-Pot Creamy Chicken Corn Chowder (from Shelley Fulton of An Edible Mosaic)
Crock-Pot Chicken Tacos (from Shelley Fulton of An Edible Mosaic)
Deconstructed Vegan “Lasagna” (from Sarah Reid of What Smells So Good)
Homemade Fresh Vegetable Soup (from Heather Tullos of Sugar Dish Me)
Individual Macaroni and Cheese (from Karen Kerr of Karen’s Kitchen Stories)
Kid-Friendly Veggie-Heavy Taco Pie (from Faith Safarini of An Edible Mosaic)
Lentil Walnut Veggie Burgers (from Mallory Frayn of Because I Like Chocolate)
Mexican Chicken and Rice Casserole (from Carrian Cheney of Oh Sweet Basil)
Mexican Sausage and Cornbread Strata (from Lisa Huff of Snappy Gourmet)
Oaxacan Masa Empanadas (from Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack of Muy Bueno Cookbook)
Paleo Ground Beef-Stuffed Eggplant (from Alyssa Brantley of Everyday Maven)
Paleo Quiche with Chorizo and Spinach (from Alyssa Brantley of Everyday Maven)
Pizza Mac and Cheese (from Faith Safarini of An Edible Mosaic)
Rice and Vegetable Stuffed Bell Peppers (from Mallory Frayn of Because I Like Chocolate)
Slow Cooker Sausage and Peppers (from Alyssa Brantley of Everyday Maven)
Spicy Tortilla Lasagna (from Tracey Harrelson of The Kitchen is my Playground)
Tasty Meatballs with Farro and Rosemary (from Christine Pittman of Cook the Story)
Tex-Mex Rice (GF)
Turkey Zucchini Pizza Lasagna (from Taylor Kiser of Food, Faith, Fitness)
Versatile Pasta Salad for Quick Meals (from Christine Pittman of Cook the Story)
Desserts and Sweet Treats
Apple Crisp (GF)
NOTE: The recipes that I know have gluten-free options are noted with (GF). Other recipes may also be gluten-free or easily adaptable. If there is no attribution after the recipe title, it is from The Heritage Cook.
Disclaimer: I was not asked to write or share this post nor was I compensated. These thoughts, as always, are my own. The people who contributed links to their recipes do not necessarily share my opinions.
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