and the pursuit of happiness

Today we celebrate the beginning of a new nation. 239 years ago, 1337 words and 56 signatures changed the world. From coast to coast, small towns and big cities alike will host parades and pyrotechnics to mark the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. The one constant across all the backyard barbeques and park picnics? The Star-Spangled Banner. The American flag has long stood as a symbol of democracy, liberty and freedom. From the surface of the moon to the shoulders of our soldiers, our flag represents hope and the promise of a brighter future.

Symbols are important. Like our flag, they can carry tremendous meaning, convey core values, and even set the course for the future. With all of that in mind, we are so proud to share our new symbol: the daisy. Surprised? Daisies aren’t particularly patriotic. They don’t have a veteran or military connection. Here’s the thing though; we focus on the caregiver. Daisies symbolize loyalty to love and new beginnings, two things military caregivers know an awful lot about.

Caregivers of veterans are a hard group to describe. They’re wives and girlfriends, yes. They’re moms and dads, too. Sometimes they’re brothers, sisters, in-laws, or friends. Some help with physical needs and others, emotional. They’re full time and part time and temporary and permanent. One thing they all share? They are fiercely loyal to their veteran. At some point, for some at many points, they have put aside their own needs, goals, and dreams and chosen instead to put their soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine first. They have left homes, jobs, friends, and “normal life” in the rear view mirror, and shown incredible loyalty to those they love.

Unlike caregivers of children with special needs or aging parents, caregivers of military veterans must start over and redefine their reality. At some point, whether in one fell phone call or over an extended period of time, caregivers of military veterans have come to the realization that things are not as they once were. Massive traumas with immediately apparent injuries like amputation or paralysis and delayed onset traumatic brain injuries alike wipe away all that is familiar and leave a blank slate of uncertainty. Like a daisy returning after winter, caregivers create a new beginning each spring. They reinvent themselves and their families to fit their new circumstances. They move across the country to be close to family or medical care. They change careers. They move dishes to lower cabinets, set medication reminders and make checklists. They focus on the future.

Military and Veteran Caregivers are the reason Quality of Life Foundation exists. They are the inspiration that led our founder to start the organization, the reason we come to work each morning, and the heart of every conversation here in our office. Modern day Florence Nightingale’s changing bandages and doling out medication, Erin Brockovich-esque crusaders fighting bureaucratic red tape to ensure benefits are correctly awarded, and everyone in between, we know caregivers are more than supporting actors in a cast starring a veteran, with a minor part limited to hand holding, wheelchair pushing, and a lot of crying over abandoned hopes and dreams. Caregivers are resourceful and resilient and resolute. Their loyalty endures through almost unthinkable hardship, and yet they more than survive. They create and nurture hope, they make lives worth living. They take classes from English, to cake decorating. They make time for Little League and gymnastics. They take lives which nearly ended, and give them new beginnings.

Here at the Quality of Life Foundation, we couldn’t think of a better way to capture those we serve than the daisy and all that it represents. It is not glamorous or gaudy, but constant, returning year after year emerging from the darkness of winter to herald the coming of spring. Like the caregivers we serve, daisies are tough; they flourish in almost any soil and are rarely troubled by bugs or disease. They endure, and thrive in the toughest of conditions. We are honored to recognize their loyalty to love and help them create their own new beginnings through our Wounded Veteran Family Care Program.

So today, as we introduce our new logo on this day we celebrate life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we know, as the Founder’s did, the road won’t be easy. There will be challenges and setbacks. The journey will be long. But, like the Founder’s we believe some things are worth it. We invite you to join us this month as we share stories of #loyalty2love and #newbeginnings and celebrate our military and veteran caregivers #growingforward.