Press Release: Free virtual program helps military caregivers

Media contact: Susan Anasagasti, 210-562-6832,

SAN ANTONIO, (March 3) — They deal with the labors of parenthood, juggling mortgages and preschool schedules. They have careers, too.  But one thing is always on their minds – caring for their injured veteran or service member. The load is often so heavy that they don’t stop to think about their own mental health. They are military caregivers.

But thanks to a program created by UT Health San Antonio’s Military Health Institute, along with USAA, military caregivers can seek help in their own homes— for free.

“There’s this ingrained belief among some caregivers that caring for themselves is not a top priority. But we as mental health providers see that as something that should be changed,” said Erika Jonietz, a UT Health San Antonio faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry. “This is about having a balance in life. There are times when things of value to you should take first place.”

The program offers up to 12 weekly sessions of therapy for those reporting increased stress or anxiety as a result of caregiving. The services are provided via a secure telehealth network accessed through the web or on a smartphone app.

The one-hour sessions are designed to be interactive so that caregivers can get their questions addressed wherever they want. Some choose to talk to their therapists in their car during their lunch hours. Others opt for evening, after work and dinner.

“Our goal is not to focus on the veterans or service member’s needs,” Jonietz said. “It’s about getting to know the caregiver.”

According to a national study, of the estimated 39.8 million Americans who provide care for an adult, 5.5 million care for a veteran or active duty service member. Of those, 1.1 million are caring for a veteran or active duty service member who has served since 9/11.

“Research shows seeking support is essential to relieving stress and depression. Caregivers have reported improved moods and say they feel less alone,” Jonietz said. “As they say on planes, ‘you need to put on your own oxygen mask first’ before helping others.”

If you are a spouse, friend, family member or loved one who assists a wounded, ill or injured service member or veteran in any activity of daily living, you could qualify to participate the military caregiver telehealth program. You must live in Texas. This program is confidential.

Registration is open until March 6. To participate or for additional information, contact Jonietz at (210) 450-8673 or at


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