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AARP & Sky Blossom: The Ploof Family

Start Date:3/3/2021

Start Time:7:00 PM CST

Duration:60 minutes

Abstract:

Sky Blossom is a raw, candid look at the 24.5 million teens and twenty-somethings caring for a veteran parent or grandparent. Caring for family with tough medical conditions, they stay at home doing things often seen only in hospitals. They are cheerleaders, work part time, and go to college — but also live double lives — quietly growing up as America’s next greatest generation.

In tonight's excerpt, we meet the Ploof Family, residing in Michigan. Jenna often buys meals for the homeless she sees, because she remembers being homeless for almost two years. Today, when not working 40 hours at Panera, she cares for her ailing father and teen sister. “A daughter, Mom, and sister all in one,” Jenna is also trying to take college classes. This event is live only and a recording will not be available after the event concludes.

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Speakers

Ploof Family

Jenna balances her caregiving for her father, Bill, with raising her newborn son and looking after her younger sister. While Jenna was still in high school, Bill started to have pain in his feet due to diabetes. The pain ultimately became so hard to bear that Bill’s leg had to be amputated, preventing Bill, a Navy veteran, from continuing his work as a truck driver. The family began to live in and out of hotels. “It was like a snowball, but a big one thrown fast,” says Jenna. “We would just barely squeeze by on food,” adds Bill. Bill is proud of his daughter for all she has done as his caregiver — all while attending community college and working at Panera Bread to support the family. “Without her, I don’t think I would have gotten this far,” he says.

Richard Lui

Director and MSNBC News Anchor

Richard Lui is a veteran and award-winning journalist with more than 30 years in television, film, technology, and business. Currently at MSNBC and previously with CNN Worldwide, he is the first Asian American man to anchor a daily national cable news program, and a team Emmy and Peabody winner. Richard’s directorial debut, the documentary, “SKY BLOSSOM” is nominated for an AARP Movies For Grownups Award. Learn more at richardlui.com.

Lisa Mussett

Woman Veterans Coordinator

US Air Force Veteran & Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs

Lisa Mussett began assisting veterans of Oklahoma in Dec 2011, serving as a consolidated LVER/DVOP (Local Veterans Employment Representative/Disabled Veteran Outreach Program) with the Veteran’s Division of the state employment agency. Lisa served multiple roles with Department of Labor programs, providing direct case management services for disabled veterans, and establishing outreach focus groups for women and tribal veterans. Lisa transferred to the state veteran agency in Jan 2017, serving as a Field Service Officer, providing claims and benefits services throughout the state. In August 2018, Lisa relocated to Oklahoma City, for a new position as the Women Veterans Coordinator. The program’s mission is to ensure women veterans in the state have equitable access to federal and state veterans’ benefits and services. In 2019, Lisa added a new role, Veteran Services Division Outreach Coordinator, utilizing the platform to advocate for Agriculture Initiatives and State Transition Services. Lisa describes herself as a proud USAF veteran and Cold War relic, having served from 1989-1992, as a Morse Systems Intercept Operator with the Electronic Security Command and later the US Air Force Intelligence Command. Lisa and her husband, Tracy, both service-connected disabled veterans, have made many career and physical moves to care for family and each other, including dual decisions to separate early from the Air Force. Today finds Tracy and Lisa both serving as the other's caregiver support, navigating the many pathways of federal and state assistance.

Shawn Moore

Executive Director and Founder

Caregivers on the Homefront

Shawn is the Executive Director and Founder of Caregivers on the Homefront, a Kansas City based non-profit that supports the mental health and wellbeing of veterans and their family members. Shawn graduated with a Masters in Social Work from Park University and is licensed in the States of Missouri and Kansas. She was a 14-year veteran with the Kansas City, Missouri Police department. Shawn is a Missouri Dole Caregiver Fellow alumna for the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. Since May of 2013 Shawn has been a caregiver for her husband who is a 23-year Army veteran. Her husband, Bryan, completed seven combat tours to Afghanistan and came home with a multitude of invisible wounds. The compounding effect his wounds have on the family, to include their children, is why she passionately advocates for the entire veteran family unit. She has presented to a national audience on how our communities can best support the family members of our veterans with SAMHSA, The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers, and the Elizabeth Dole Foundation to name a few. She has shared her story on PBS NewsHour, MSNBC, and local news channels. She was chosen as a Caregiver Visionary winner for Caregiving.com in 2019. Shawn openly shares her caregiver story throughout the United States in hopes that all family caregivers, including children, will be recognized for the work they do to take care of our wounded veterans.
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