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

Cynde Collins-Clark

My faith has sustained me because it invites me to use challenges as something I can grow from.

What are the most significant lessons you’ve learned from being a caregiver?

It is an exhausting privilege that has taught me patience, and revealed the profound courage of my son.

How do you find your strength in the difficulty of the day-to-day?

Absolute unwavering faith, my son’s resolve to move forward, my husband’s unending support, efforts made by family and friends to demonstrate encouragement and support, and the friendships of other veterans and their families.

What do you wish people knew about military caregivers?

The tremendous love we have for the veterans in our life. That we, too, leave no one behind.

My Story

Cynde's son Joe was a 19-year-old Army Reservist when he volunteered to deploy in 2003. He returned home appearing healthy and strong after spending 366 days in Iraq. Within four months, he found a great job and bought his own home, all at the age of 21. However, unbeknownst to Cynde and her family, he was slowly unraveling. Joe lost his job, his home, and his health. For the last 15 years, he has struggled with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and many debilitating physical problems due to his deployment.

As a Dole Caregiver Fellow and primary caregiver to an unmarried wounded warrior, it is Cynde's hope to elevate awareness of the unique legal, financial, and medically-related challenges that caregivers face. The stress of navigating complex systems of care, while maintaining her own health and relationships, is profound. As an aging caregiver, she now faces concerns for her son’s future welfare. It is her hope that the longest wars in American history will provide the deepest insight and impact decisions for the nation's brave warriors and their families.