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’ 25+ years work with military survivors.
Melissa Comeau is the proud spouse and caregiver of a United States Marine.
Her book Sleeping with the War was published in 2015 and has brought the family and caregiver perspective to life after combat. Melissa served as a Fellow for the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. She has a long history of providing peer support to military families and is supporting efforts at Blue Star Families, PsychArmor and the Military Family Advisory Network.
Melissa was appointed to the Federal Advisory Committee for Veterans’ Family, Caregivers and Survivors at the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. She is a recognized advocate for the military and veteran community and continues her work to support caregivers in her role as the Director of the American Red Cross Military and Veteran Caregiver Network.
Her education and background in IT project management have made her a valuable resource and a pioneer in the development of technology to support caregivers. Melissa is invested in the long term care of our Nation’s heroes as well as their families, children and caregivers.
Programs and Services 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.
Outreach, Engagement and Training Associate
Rachel has been caring for her disabled veteran spouse for over 4 years. While navigating her caregiving role and two young children, she completed her Doctoral Degree in Education with emphasis on Instructional Leadership.
Rachel has a passion for the military community. While her husband was on active duty, she volunteered her time to strengthen the bonds of the military family. She created and executed many events to help our military service men and women find ways to reconnect with their children and spouses. This passion continued after her husband’s retirement.
Today, Rachel volunteers with Caregivers on the Homefront, and co-facilitates caregiver support groups which are designed to decrease isolation among veteran families while also creating an environment of empowerment and support to navigate this journey together. She is proud of her position as the Outreach, Engagement & Training Associate at the American Red Cross Military and Veteran Caregiver Network.
In her free time she finds peace in painting, bullet journaling, reading, and traveling.