Group Helps Vets by Helping Caregivers

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 26, 2007 - A Texas-based group is working to give caregivers of war wounded and military spouses the support they need as they transition from the military community to the civilian sector.

"Our goal is to empower achievement, independence, and the assurance of renewed hope," said Tania Mercurio, an Air Force spouse who serves as executive director of Operation Life Transformed.

In working to help every caregiver or military spouse achieve that goal, the group provides virtual or classroom training and education. The training programs allow better job marketability and retention, Mercurio said.

The training focuses on fields that are flexible enough to accommodate the sometimes unpredictable schedule of the target audience. Medical transcription, for example, is 80 percent outsourced, she said.

Kimberly Ryusaki Marrerro, another executive director of Operation Life Transformed and a Navy spouse, said these types of positions work well for caregivers or military spouses.

"We have a talented, untapped pool of resources that needs temporary work," she said. "Operation Life Transformed works with the caregiver and corporation to provide temporary placement while the caregiver is supporting the injured at a medical facility."

Being able to find temporary employment while helping a wounded servicemember recover can help ensure the family's economic stability, Marrero said.

The organization, which has won the Newman's Own Award for excellence and innovation within the military community, has recently become a supporter of America Supports You.

America Supports You is a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad.

The credibility the affiliation provides groups like Operation Life Transformed in the military community is priceless, said Colleen Saffron, another executive director of Operation Life Transformed and an Army spouse.

She also hopes it will help the group network with complementary organizations.

"Operation Life Transformed realizes that no one group can meet all of the needs of all of these families, so it seeks to create partnerships with other organizations in order to create a network of support for our military families during this tumultuous time in our nation's history," Saffron said. "When someone comes to us needing help that's not part of our mission, we (want to be) able to send them to other organizations within our network that can help them."

*Related Sites:*
Operation Life Transformed  [ ]

Group Helps Vets by Helping Caregivers [ ]