Elizabeth Dole Foundation
Hidden Heroes
Caregiver Journey Map Campaign for Inclusive Care

Amanda Schalau

It is an honor and a privilege to care for my husband after all the sacrifices he has made.

What is the most difficult thing about your daily routine?

The most difficult part of my day is remembering to live in the moment. Not being able to plan ahead can be unsettling. You never know what you will be dealing with in the next few minutes.

How do you find strength in the difficulty of your day-to-day? 

I am happy. I feel blessed to have my husband and children. I will steal five minutes away in the bathroom or outside and embrace the silence. I have my faith to lean on for strength, and I laugh. There is humor and a lesson in pretty much every situation; sometimes a good giggle and pushing forward is the best way to handle things.

What advice would you offer to other military and veteran caregivers?

Always push forward to find the answers you need. Don’t forget the support of the community of military caregivers – lift each other up and help guide one another. Ask questions.

My Story

When I married my husband, Ken, I never imagined becoming his caregiver. After 20 years in the Army, Ken’s injuries from Panama and Afghanistan became more apparent and I found myself in this new role. Ken’s severe invisible wounds include Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), memory issues, suicidal thoughts, fatigue and balance problems due to a growth on his cerebellum. With help from my local caregiving community, I am working to provide my husband with the care he needs and greater independence in his day-to-day life.

After losing my first husband, also a veteran, to suicide, I fully understand the need to shed more light on the mental health issues facing caregivers and their families, especially children. As a Dole Caregiver Fellow, I plan to raise awareness for the wounded warrior community at-large and hope to see a caregiver-staffed Caregiver and Veteran Family Resource Office established at every VA hospital.