Remembering and caring for others who serve: Caregiver Coach Wendy Turney

Wendy Turney, Caregiver Coach for Operation Family Caregiver

On May 28, 2017, music played as crowds of families, veterans and service members gathered under the white tents at the Tallahassee National Cemetery. Despite the heat, hundreds of people congregated in remembrance of Memorial Day and the fallen service members the day represents.

FSU College of Social Work staff member Wendy Turney played a special role in the ceremony as one of the participants honored to lay a wreath in remembrance of loved ones killed in action. Wendy’s participation held personal significance for her, as her husband, Milas Jake Turney, Chief Warrant Officer 2, a pilot in the U.S Army, was killed in a helicopter accident during a training exercise.

“I have been transformed and forever changed because of my husband Jake’s presence in my life, and now absence. While I honor, remember, and am inspired by Jake and the other men and women who paid the ultimate price to ensure our nation’s freedom and safety throughout the year, my participation in past and future Memorial Day events is to keep their memory alive,” Wendy said. “Together, as a community, we express the pain and grief that we all feel without them here, and support each other while we remember and honor them on this sacred day. Through tears and laughter, sharing memories and stories of our loved ones helps us not only feel connected to them but connected to each other.”

Through Wendy’s personal experiences, she feels a special connection with family members and friends of service members and veterans. This connection and her experiences are her inspiration and motivation to help others. She earned her Master of Social Work from FSU in 2014 in order to better serve military service members, military families, and her community.

Wendy found her way back to the FSU College of Social Work in 2015 after the college partnered with the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving to bring the Operation Family Caregiver (OFC) program to the Southeastern region of the United States. She joined the college’s staff as the first OFC caregiver coach, connecting with caregivers of veterans and service members to provide support and training.

Working with caregivers in-person, in-office, via Skype and telephone sessions, Wendy helps them develop coping and problem-solving skills to improve their life situations, so they are better able to support service members and veterans at home.

Faculty member Margaret Ashmore, the Program Manager of the FSU OFC Program and Wendy’s supervisor, noted the impact the OFC Program has had on caregivers and their families. “Our recruitment efforts have focused primarily on providing caregiver appreciation luncheons across the state. These luncheons educate caregivers about our program, demonstrate the commitment FSU and OFC have for military families and help to build a network of support for other caregivers. In addition, Wendy’s unique combination of skills and personal experience creates a strong bond with our caregivers and is central in encouraging them to work toward self-care. These efforts have paid off. We have served 85 caregivers since the program started.

IMG_7723.JPGWendy reminds us that while Memorial Day comes once a year, we can honor our service members every day of the year through continued support of military families and veterans. To learn more about the Operation Family Caregiver Program at FSU, visit

We Remember Them

Poem by Rabbi Sylvan Kamens and Rabbi Jack Riemer

In the rising of the sun and in its going down,
we remember them.
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
we remember them.
In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring,
we remember them.
In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer,
we remember them.
In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
we remember them.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
we remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength,
we remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart,
we remember them.
When we have joys we yearn to share,
we remember them.
So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are now a part of us,
as we remember them.


Thursday, June 29, 2017 - 09:22 AM
Last updated: Wed, 05/23/2018 - 10:45 AM