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

Brandi Melott

The more you know, the more you can understand.

How has being a military caregiver changed you?

Being a military caregiver has helped restore my confidence and has made me proud of myself. It has shown me that I can do anything. I’ve made it through the most horrible experiences and I am not afraid. I can still smile everyday and see the good in people.

What has been one of your biggest challenges as a military caregiver?

When I first met my husband, he had already undergone a below the knee amputation. After falling in the shower, his cut developed into a major infection. We had an extremely difficult time getting him proper medical care. Finally, he had to have his leg further amputated above the knee. He was filled with so much anger from this experience. He felt betrayed by the system. Because of these negative feelings, my husband began abusing his pain medication. I’ve had to learn to keep his medication in a safe until I administer it and he’s begun to admit to how the drugs affect him.

What advice do you wish you had when you first became a military caregiver?

I wish I had been informed about how to identify narcotics abuse. It would have saved us from so much pain. I didn’t know how to recognize his behaviors.

My Story

Brandi met her husband, Mitch, in 2011, three years after he was injured in Iraq. In 2008, his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) and crushed his left leg. For the next two years, doctors tried to salvage his leg but chronic infections prevented healing, and in 2010 his left leg was amputated below the knee. Brandi thought she understood the implications of his physical injury, but she was not at all prepared from the mental challenges from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

As a Dole Fellow, Brandi is committed to learning more and educating about substance abuse in veterans.