A new program is offering free mental health counseling telehealth support to military and veteran caregivers who sign up with the service.
Over the last six months, many organizations have ramped up telehealth service offerings or added them to their repertoire. Soldiers' Angels, a national nonprofit, is joining the list.
You may be familiar with the "Angel" volunteer network, which provides aid, comfort and resources to the military community. It has adapted some of its volunteer opportunities during the pandemic, including a Volunteer in Your Pajamas program that encourages volunteers to write letters, bake treats and make masks.
Before COVID-19 was a household term, Soldiers' Angels sent a survey to those registered in its Women of Valor program, which focuses on female caregivers for post-9/11 service members and veterans. That includes wives, girlfriends, mothers and other female relatives.
It found that the common unmet need is taking care of the mental health and medical needs of the caregivers -- which can often be done through telehealth.
"Even before COVID hit, we began to recognize through our own outreach that our military caregivers desperately needed a way to access mental health and medical services without the hassle of leaving their homes," said Amy Palmer, CEO and president of Soldiers' Angels.
The group is offering a new free telehealth program to caregivers registered with the Women of Valor program. By working with the website MDLIVE, caregivers will be able to set up appointments using a computer, tablet or smartphone and see a doctor for medical or behavioral health care.
MDLIVE has licensed therapists to provide help in areas including anxiety, depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, stress management and relationship issues. Medical care appointments are for non-emergency conditions such as allergies, headache, sore throat, fever or the flu.
"Now that COVID is further isolating people in their homes and creating the potential for mental or medical challenges, we are so grateful to have partnered with MDLive and to offer these much-needed telehealth services -- at zero cost to the patient," Palmer said. "Our mission is to provide a full range of support for military caregivers through our Women of Valor program. Whether it be a friendly voice of encouragement from one of our Angel volunteers or the help of a medical professional at a moment's notice -- we will have their back."
Marci, a participant who recently used the MDLIVE services to find relief from a sinus infection, had been putting off medical care because of the hassle of finding a provider.
"[I] went on the website, asked for an appointment, filled out a small questionnaire and within 5 minutes I was talking with a really awesome doctor and explaining everything to her. Fifteen minutes after that, she … sent over a script to my pharmacy for antibiotics. Y'all, you have no idea the weight that was lifted just by knowing that I can finally get medical help too," she said.
Marci has already scheduled an appointment to talk with a psychiatrist about her insomnia and said her husband is happy that she is finally taking care of herself. She added that she's incredibly grateful for the opportunity to get care from the comfort of her home or the parking lot on her lunch break.
To register for the Women of Valor Program, start here.
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