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

Belinda Edwards

Being a military caregiver is an honor and a privilege. My father volunteered to serve and protect our country during the Vietnam Era. Now, it’s my turn to protect him.

What are you most excited to do as a Dole Caregiver Fellow?

As a Dole Caregiver Fellow, I am most excited to share my father’s story in hopes to learn more about his military service career. I have a passion to aid the sole caregiver, those individuals, like me, who have limited to no physical support to aid their military loved one.

What is one piece of advice you would offer to other military and veteran caregivers?

The one piece of advice I would offer other military and veteran caregivers is to seek support in as many differ ways as possible (e.g., mental health therapy, support groups, state and local organizations).

How has your life changed since you became a caregiver? What sacrifices have you had to make?

I have many “jobs” now that I am a caregiver to both parents.  These jobs range from care coordinator, appointment scheduler, medication manager, coalition builder, entertainment, and chef to name a few.  (Maybe I’m spoiling my parents, but they spoiled me.) I have also changed projects within my professional life in order to be available for my parents’ medical needs.

I have sacrificed a major portion of my personal life to care for my parents. I do not partake in as many social activities that I enjoy as I do not have a lot of physical help.  This season of my life allows me to understand the work and sacrifices my parents made for me.

My Story

Belinda is the only child of her dad Robert, an Air Force veteran, and mom Betty, who will celebrate their 57th anniversary later this year. In 2017, Robert was in remission, however his cancer reoccurred beginning in 2021. He is also a multiple stroke survivor. Both parents have mild dementia and Belinda does not have extended family in the region to help, so she is their sole caregiver.  

Throughout the day, Belinda has a variety of duties maintaining her parents’ health including arranging and driving to doctors' appointments, cooking meals, and managing finances. Belinda also has to work hard to manage her own health as she deals with the effects of long COVID, and the demands of her job as a cyber security architect. Belinda is grateful that her job allows her to arrange her projects in a way that can work around her caregiving responsibilities.  

Before having COVID, Belinda loved to dance across genres, from ballet to ballroom. Although she doesn’t dance anymore, she continues to love the arts: dance, music, and theatre. Belinda enjoys an adult coloring book to create moments of calm. She is involved in her office’s multi-generational council as the lead of its caregiver series. In the role, she helps other caregivers self-identify and become connected to resources and peer support.   

As a single caregiver, with no spouse or children, Belinda’s biggest concern is about who will be there to care for her parents for those moments when she cannot, especially if her health should ever keep her from providing care for an extended period of time. Belinda hopes to be able to advocate and create resources and solutions for other single caregivers like herself who have no one to turn to on difficult days.