Caregiving on the Homefront: The War at Home

Caregiving on the Homefront: The War at Home

Marilyn Lash, M.S.W.
Women caring for spouses injured in combat face a new war on the homefront as service member and veterans return home with PTSD or TBI. This booklet describes the effects of caregiving on marriages and children with suggestions for recognizing compassion fatigue, grieving losses, managing stress, and developing coping skills.
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Full Description

Based on the personal experiences of hundreds of women who are caregivers for service members and veterans with physical, cognitive and emotional wounds related to PTSD or TBI, this booklet is their story of survival as war comes home. It explains why so many women have feelings of loss, anger and confusion at the same time they are expected to be grateful that their husbands have survived their injuries. Too often the stresses and needs of caregivers are unrecognized; this booklet frankly discusses the impact of caregiving on women, their relationships, and their family. Subjects often ignored or considered taboo are addressed including grief, compassion fatigue, loss of intimacy, violence and aggression, and parenting. Women will find that they are not alone as they read this booklet, but are part of a sisterhood of female caregivers facing new challenges at home.

ISBN# 978-1931117678
Pages 20
Year 2013


Marilyn Lash, M.S.W.

As President of Lash and Associates, Ms Lash has over 35 years of experience working with persons with disabilities and their families in medical, rehabilitation, educational and vocational settings. Her primary focus is supporting families and developing community programs along with user-friendly publications for families, educators, and clinicians. She speaks often and conducts workshops on the emotional trauma of families caring for wounded service members and veterans.



About the Author

Before He Came Home

Coming Home

Understanding Your Grief

Living Grief

Finding a New Normal

Compassion Fatigue

Living with PTSD

Helping Your Children







This booklet was written for all the women who are caring for men who have been wounded by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The events on 9/11 changed the world for all of us. So many of our service members and veterans have witnessed and experienced the terrors and conflicts of war. But for many, the war did not end when they came home.

They are facing a new war on the homefront. It is a personal war filled with memories, emotions, nightmares, flashbacks, and survivor guilt. For many, it is also accompanied by physical changes, cognitive challenges, chronic pain and mental anguish. Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD and traumatic brain injury or TBI have become known as the signature wounds of the War on Terror and carry both visible and invisible wounds.

But the effects of war are not felt only by those who have been deployed and been to war, there is now a new war on the homefront as families are reunited. War changes not only those who fight but those who remained home as well – the wives, mothers, sisters, grandmothers, aunts and the children.

In an ideal world, these reunions would unfold like the joyful events often seen on the local TV news as Daddy comes home and is enveloped in the arms of his family with the implicit message that “all is well.” The reality is far different. Coming home is just the beginning for these families.

This booklet is written for these women and families. It is based on the personal experiences and stories of hundreds of women who are caregivers for their men who are still struggling with the physical, cognitive and emotional wounds of war. It is their story of survival as war comes home.

Before he came home….

So many women and families have lived with the stress and anxieties of multiple deployments over many years. These women held their families together, did their jobs, comforted their children, hid their tears, and faced their fears. Counting the months and days until the most recent deployment would end was a countdown on the refrigerator calendar – each day that was checked off was another day that he was safe, still alive, and closer to coming home.

Coming home…

“This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen.”

Getting that phone call or knock on the door telling you that he was hurt changes your world. The immediate relief that he’s alive then turns into a million questions accompanied by worries and fears. “How bad is it?” “Will he survive?” “What does this mean?”

Traumatic brain injury, post concussion syndrome, PTSD, amputation, spinal cord injury, burns – these are the diagnoses that many women have heard. Treating these wounds of war is more than medical care. The physical wounds of the body can be seen and managed. The polytrauma hospitals and VA hospitals are prepared to do that. But there are wounds of the mind and spirit that are harder to recognize and may be even more complicated to treat. There are wounds to relationships as well. It is these wounds to the mind, spirit and relationships that come home. Too many women struggle on their own to heal these wounds not knowing what to do or how to help.

The comments of women are remarkably similar, even down to the exact words.

“Every time he came home, another piece of him was missing.”

“He’s not he same man who I married.”

“He never talks about what happened and what he saw.”

“I don’t know how to reach him.”

“We’re like strangers living in the same house.”

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