Brian and Natalie Vines: How Can Civilians Support Military Caregivers

Caregiving for a loved one or a friend, putting their needs before your own 24/7 in the short- or long-term, can be very difficult and exhausting at times. A little recognition goes a long way. Most civilians may not understand this type of selfless care, and a handwritten note, a plate of cookies, or a mowed lawn can go a long way to let a caregiver know you see them, and respect them.

Shortly after Brian and Natalie Vines met in the military in 1998, their unit deployed to Kuwait. Fueled by assignments on nearby bases, common interests, and shared military experiences, their friendship grew into a romantic relationship that eventually led them to the alter. Brian and Natalie loved their careers in the U.S. Army — Brian served for 28 years and Natalie for 21.

After several sustaining several TBIs and living with PTSD, Natalie retired from the Army. And in 2012, Brian, who lives with PTSD as well, decided to retire to take care of his wife. Since then, both Brian and Natalie also found significant growth and healing through their participation in the WWP Independence Program. Brian volunteers as a peer mentor helping his fellow veterans on WWP Project Odyssey® events.

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I think caregivers, all they’re asking for many times is just recognition. Most civilians may not be able to grapple with the thought of selfless care, putting someone else’s needs before yours 24 X 7. Unless they’ve been a caregiver to a member of their family or a friend, they can’t identify with that. If a community member or a neighbor, if they would just go to the caregiver sometime and maybe mow their yard or bring them some cookies, or just a handwritten note. Something to say “Hey, you’re appreciated and we know you’re having a difficult time and we respect what you’re doing.”

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Posted on BrainLine November 10, 2021. Reviewed November 10, 2021.

About the author: Brian and Natalie Vines

Shortly after Brian and Natalie Vines met in the military in 1998, their unit deployed to Kuwait. Fueled by assignments on nearby bases, common interests, and shared military experiences, their friendship grew into a romantic relationship that eventually led them to the alter. Brian and Natalie loved their careers in the U.S. Army — Brian served for 28 years and Natalie for 21. After several sustaining several TBIs and living with PTSD, Natalie retired from the Army. And in 2012, Brian, who lives with PTSD as well, decided to retire to take care of his wife. Since then, both Brian and Natalie also found significant growth and healing through their participation in the Wounded Warrior Project® Independence Program. Brian volunteers as a peer mentor helping his fellow veterans on WWP Project Odyssey® events.

A photo from left to right of Natalie Vines, her German Shepherd service dog, and Brian Vines, all smiling facing the camera