It is a long, hard road and it is so easy to give up, but if you do you will never know what could have been.
What are you most excited to do as a Dole Caregiver Fellow?
I would love to be a voice for both veterans and their caregivers. There are many veterans that do not have anyone to speak for them.
What does being a military or veteran caregiver mean to you?
It is a lot of responsibility, but also very rewarding.
How has your life changed since you became a caregiver? What sacrifices have you had to make?
I lost a job and was forced to retire early (I now work part-time). I have not been able to travel and almost all my spare time is taken up on things that concern my daughter.
Chris Hahn never stops advocating for her daughter Angie. In 2008, Angie fell and hit her head while working in the Army at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. She underwent surgery which resulted in complications that caused a brain bleed in her cerebellum, spinal meningitis, and damage to the right side of her brain, and left her in a coma for a year and a half. Five years after her injury, Angie was also diagnosed with breast cancer and heart problems from the chemotherapy treatments. Chris said, “I took my walking, talking daughter into the hospital, and I literally had to carry her out.”
After many care centers and hospital stays, Chris was able to place Angie in a poly-trauma center where her quality of life began to improve because of the physical therapy she was receiving. However, when the center closed, Chris had to transfer Angie to a different nursing home where she was no longer getting all the therapy and treatment she needs to continue improving. Seeing her daughter’s health decline, Chris was consumed with overseeing her care. Chris believes that while placing Angie in a facility was necessary because of the level of care she required, it has made caregiving even harder, in some ways, and more frustrating. Health care centers are not the same as poly-trauma centers and do not look at things the same way, Chris shares.
In addition to advocating for Angie and taking her to doctors’ appointments, Chris helps Angie keep a relationship with her daughter who is now in college. She also visits Angie frequently and tries to take her out once a week.
Chris hopes to advocate for caregivers who must face legal issues related to their veterans’ care and to find more resources for veterans to receive therapy at poly-trauma centers.