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

Ashlee Williams

In order for the care recipient to be happy and healthy, we must be happy and healthy.

At what moment did you realize you were a military caregiver?

When I entered my husband’s hospital room after he was injured, it was my first time seeing him with the injuries. His face was so beautiful and I was just so happy to see him alive and in front of me. After further observation of his war-torn body, I immediately knew that my care was necessary, and that it would be a life-long process for us due to the reality that both of his legs and his right arm were forever gone.

What does being a military caregiver mean to you?

Being a military caregiver is going above and beyond the love and support I already show my husband as his wife. More than anyone, I am here daily to see what the future may hold for us and the support and assistance he will need going forward. As his caregiver, it is my role to advocate for those needs.

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

Remember that your needs are important, too. As caregivers, we get so wrapped up in making sure that our loved ones are well that we lose the time and focus for ourselves. My life has changed in many ways since becoming a caregiver, some I may not even be fully aware of yet. I’ve learned that things are constantly changing and that we just have to roll with it and continue living life the best we can.

My Story

Ashlee will never forget the day she received the horrific call that her husband, J.D., had been severely injured in Afghanistan resulting in the amputation of both of his legs above the knee, and his right arm above the elbow. She immediately left her full-time job, packed up their then 11-month-old daughter, and moved across the country to a world class prosthetic center for his care. Wound care, appointments, therapy, and learning this new life quickly became her focus. Today, they reside in her home state of Kentucky and have been blessed with a wonderful, caring support system. Being active in the military community has empowered them both to push forward.

As a Dole Caregiver Fellow, she hopes to shed more light on the Hidden Heroes community and establish more caregiver support groups throughout her state.