When I see adversity or someone being treated improperly, I pay a lot more attention to it than I used to.
How do you address some current challenges?
Our main goal is to keep my husband healthy and help him enjoy the things he can still do. Our challenge is downsizing for our new life. I had worked as an office manager and my husband had worked in the school district when he wasn’t deployed, so our path towards retirement has changed. We are shedding things to reduce our debt and working on lowering our bills as we adjust to a new income. Another challenge is keeping him healthy and helping him enjoy the things he can still do.
How has being a military caregiver changed you?
Being a military caregiver has changed me in really good ways. Even though it’s been a lot of loss – losing our forever home and quitting my career to become a fulltime caregiver — now I see caregiving as an opportunity. I want to continue to change the system and help Americans understand that sometimes what you see on the outside is not what’s happening on the inside. I have become a stronger person and advocate.
What do you think is the biggest misconception civilians have about your situation?
I think civilians often don’t realize how difficult it is to be a military caregiver. Eric’s injuries are not all visible, so I have heard comments from well-meaning friends like, “If he would understand he isn’t as bad off as he thinks he is, he’d probably heal faster.” This has been the most difficult for me. It’s important to educate people to have a level of concern about invisible injuries because there is incredible healing and strength when a friend, coworker, church member, or local business person responds positively–even when they don’t completely understand the situation.
I have been a military wife to my husband Eric for nearly thirty years. I quit my career as an office manager to tend to him, but it was more of a lateral transfer as I use my skills to manage finances, paperwork, medications, and the household. Nonetheless, it is difficult and tiring.
As a Dole Fellow, I share my caregiver experiences to help others focus on building great futures.