My husband deserves a real chance at living a long, fulfilling life, and if I have to be the one to make that happen, I will.
What does being a military caregiver mean to you?
Being a military caregiver means being able to give back the commitment and dedication he gave to our country when he put his life on the line. I’m reciprocating that by giving back to him.
What was one of the first major challenges you faced as a military caregiver?
I felt alienated and alone. I didn’t know whom to reach out to; where to go when I was struggling. There are a lot of caregivers out there who believe they are alone and don’t realize that there are programs and groups that will connect them with other caregivers. Once I could admit I needed help, I was able to find support.
How has being a military caregiver changed you?
At first, I thought caregiving made me weaker because I was very emotional. I was worried, losing sleep, and becoming scatterbrained, but caregiving made me stronger. I’ve grown a thicker skin. After my husband’s last surgery, it all clicked. I got up, brushed my knees off, and decided I could do this. I’m able to advocate for him now.
Amber's husband, Jace, began to decline physically and emotionally after serving for years as an Army military police investigator. He struggled daily to walk, endured numbness in his limbs, and suffered chronic pain. His first spinal surgery failed. After two subsequent surgeries, Jace’s emotional and mental state deteriorated and they came face-to-face with the realization that Jace was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Her husband’s surgeries and ongoing battle with PTSD ignited a passion in Amber to ensure her husband had a chance to have a higher quality of life, while providing a secure and happy home for their five children. Their days are full of doctor’s appointments, family care, and finding joy in the little things. With the support of Jace’s doctors and the caregiver community, their family regained ground and is now thriving.
Amber's goal as a Dole Fellow is to educate people about the physical challenges our veterans battle, as well as the wounds such as PTSD, which are just as real, but unseen.
Watch me receive Rapid City, South Dakota’s first ever “Hidden Hero of the Month” award.