Family Caregiver Curriculum

Becoming a Family Caregiver

Being a caregiver can be both challenging and rewarding. Caregivers often tell us that what helped them most was this advice: Take things one day at a time. Learn to ask for and accept help. Try to reduce stress. And maintain hope.

The Family Caregiver Curriculum is a source of information and support for caregivers of service members and veterans with moderate to severe TBI. It is the result of Congressional action1 and cooperation from a panel made up of TBI survivors, family members and experts appointed by the White House, and the departments of Defense and Health and Human Services.

DVBIC was selected to facilitate this process because of its nearly 20 years of service to active duty military, their beneficiaries, and veterans with traumatic brain injuries.

DVBIC received this Congressional mandate April 23, 2007. Staff members provided support to develop the content, ensure its accuracy, and distribute and maintain the curriculum. The result is this comprehensive guide, Traumatic Brain Injury: A Guide for Caregivers of Service Members and Veterans.

The guide provides caregivers with information and resources not only to care for their loved ones, but themselves in the process. This resource is broken down into sections, or modules:

Module 1: Introduction to Traumatic Brain Injury. This module describes the brain and how its function is affected by TBI. The focus of this module is to help caregivers understand the changes that can be seen in their loved ones.

Module 2: Understanding the Effects of TBI and What You Can Do to Help. This module explains in more detail the physical and emotional effects of TBI. It also explains to the caregiver how they can help their family member deal with these issues.

Module 3: Becoming a Family Caregiver for a Service Member/Veteran with TBI. This module is all about the caregiver. It has tips on how to organize life as a caregiver and encourages caregivers to take care of themselves during this stressful time.

Module 4: Navigating Services and Benefits. This module explains how the disability rating system works. It describes how to get services and benefits that can help you take care of your injured family member.

To download PDF files of the guide, please click on the module pages located in the menu bar to the left.

To see additional interactive educational tools, please visit the Center for Excellence in Medical Multimedia, our multimedia partner for the Family Caregiver Guide. The CEMM, which created, is a dynamic initiative from the Office of the Surgeon General, supplying award-winning interactive multimedia for patient education throughout the Military Health System.

Multimedia Resources

We encourage you to explore the following multimedia resources:

Caregiving and TBI: What You Need to Know: This is the second in a series of webcasts on traumatic brain injury, hosted by Doris McMillon. It offers ideas and strategies for people caring for a loved one with TBI, and features the following distinguished guests:

  • Nathan D. Zasler, an internationally respected rehabilitation physician in brain injury care
  • Carolyn Rocchio, a nationally recognized advocate, author and speaker in the field of brain injury
  • Sarah Wade, the wife of retired Army Sgt. Edward “Ted” Wade


New Family Needs Line Available


Addressing Family Needs: This booklet is essential to families with a service member/veteran with a TBI. Everyone in the family is affected, and this tool will assist during this time of transition.

Taking Care of Yourself While Caring for Others: This booklet offers coping techniques for caregivers and families who are trying to manage stress, anxiety or sadness, while caring for an injured service member/veteran. Experts provide advice on relaxation and self-care.

Talking With Children About TBI: This booklet offers communication techniques that can help you explain the effects of TBI to children in a way they can understand. Includes tips for every age group, from toddlers to teens.

Talking With Children About Moderate or Severe TBI: This booklet provides essential tips on how to explain to children what a moderate or severe TBI is and how to cope with the changes in their loved one.


1 In December 2006, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2007. Section 744 mandated the development of “…coordinated, uniform, and consistent training curricula to be used in training family members in the provision of care and assistance to members and former members of the Armed Forces with traumatic brain injuries.” The act established a 15-member panel to develop the curriculum. Panel members were appointed by the White House and the departments of Defense and Health and Human Services on March 6, 2008.