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

Christina Crook

I didn’t realize my strength.

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

The day I had to quit my job. At first, I went on family and medical leave, but I realized I couldn’t go back because I had to stay with my husband. My life changed and took a different route than I anticipated. I’m following my heart instead of working in a bank.

What was one of the first major challenges you faced as a military caregiver?

The first major challenge was not blurring the line between caregiver and spouse. I’d talk about my husband when he was in the room, but not talk with him. It got to a point where he wasn’t a person, but just a care recipient. It felt like there was no more intimacy because I was caring for him. It was a struggle for the first year—I had to get back to the mindset of “this is the man I married and he deserves the respect he got when we first married.”

How has being a military caregiver changed you?

Being a military caregiver changed my priorities in life. Being a caregiver has made me realize I enjoy advocating for my husband and all veterans. Veteran issues get swept under the rug, or become a number in a long line; sometimes they need a loud voice to speak up for them. I’ve become more confident—I didn’t realize the impact I could make until I became my husband’s caregiver. I didn’t realize my strength.

My Story

In 2007, Christina's husband Noah returned home a changed man. Substance abuse, violent outbursts, loss of memory, and suicidal thoughts and attempts had become the norm for her once vibrant husband. After years of counseling, Noah was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Since then, Christina has focused on providing loving care and promoting a safe home environment through constant supervision, stepping in to diffuse difficult situations, and providing Noah comfort and reassurance.

As a Dole Caregiver Fellow, she address both childcare issues and feelings of loneliness and isolation among caregivers.