The MVCN wish to acknowledge the support of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), which inspired and served as the model for our peer-support programs, serving as incubator for the MVCN from 2014-2017. We especially recognize the impact and contributions of our founding executive director, Dr. Lynda Davis, US Army (ret.), (former Executive Vice President of TAPS).

From the inception of the MVCN through 2016, Dr. Davis applied her effective leadership advocacy for military, veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors– tested in her roles as a VA clinician then Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy; Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy and leader of the first joint U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)/Veterans Affairs (VA) comprehensive care/case management reform in support of wounded warriors. She now serves as Chief Veterans Experience Officer in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

We continue Dr. Davis’ commitment to ensuring that the MVCN offers evidence-based best practices in peer support proven effective through TAPS’ 23+ years work with military survivors.

Staff

 

Melissa Comeau

MVCN Director

Melissa Comeau is the proud spouse and caregiver of a United States Marine who was medically retired after nearly 13 years of service including 4 combat deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Melissa’s book Sleeping with the War was published in 2015 by the War Writer’s Campaign and has brought the family and caregiver perspective to life after combat.

Melissa Comeau served as the Arizona Fellow for the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and was honored to help introduce the Hidden Heroes Congressional Caucus for Military and Veteran Caregivers. She is a recognized advocate for the military and veteran community and continues her efforts to support caregivers in her role as the Director of the Military and Veteran Caregiver Network.

Her education and background in Accounting and IT project management have made her a valuable resource and a pioneer in the development of technology to support caregivers who may be isolated or not otherwise connected.

Melissa is invested in the long term care and recovery our Nation’s heroes as well as their families and caregivers.

 

Melissa Johnson   

Programs & Training Associate  

Melissa is a passionate advocate who personally knows the challenges faced by military and veteran caregivers. Her desire to help others prompted her to volunteer with Blinded Veterans Association, Family of a Vet, and The Elizabeth Dole Foundation (where she serves as an EDF Fellow for South Dakota). She utilizes her experiences to educate and encourage other caregivers, frequently speaking across her home state of South Dakota to raise awareness of the issues impacting caregivers by sharing her personal struggles and victories.

Melissa believes peer support can help caregivers find their inner strength, employing appropriate coping skills and strategies as they learn to adapt to, and rise above, life-altering circumstances. Building support within the caregiver community, as well as reaching out to those who have limited access to in-person support is critical to providing ongoing support to caregivers.

Melissa is the spouse and caregiver for a soldier who served 26 years in the Army Reserve, including active deployments during Operation Desert Storm, Operation Joint Guard/Joint Endeavor and Operation Iraqi Freedom. During his tour in Iraq, he was struck by a mortar blast, sustaining traumatic brain injury (TBI). He is now legally blind in addition to struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Melissa is also a mother of three and has three grandchildren.

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Debbie Sprague

Engagement, Recruitment and Outreach Associate 

Debbie has dedicated her life to improving others’ quality of life through the creation and management of social service, health and recreation programs for the elderly, disabled and special needs children. In 2004, life dramatically changed when her husband, a Vietnam Veteran, was diagnosed with complications from exposure to Agent Orange and severe PTSD. Debbie’s personal need to finding answers– after growing overwhelmed and lost in the world of veteran caregiving and PTSD– together with her desire to help others, led her to become an advocate, radio show host, support group facilitator, speaker, bestselling author and Elizabeth Dole Foundation Fellow.

Debbie has found her professional training invaluable in her service to caregivers of all eras. She holds a BA in recreation administration and therapeutic recreation with a minor in psychology and has completed postgraduate studies in gerontology. Debbie is also a Board Certified Life Coach, and holds a Community College Teaching Credential in Health and Physical Care Services. Debbie currently serves as caregiver to her husband and her elderly parents. She also cared for her son and mother-in-law during their losing battles with cancer. Debbie and her husband have three grown children and six grandchildren.

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