Support doesn’t need to be a grand gesture, sometimes it’s just the little things that make a difference.
What are you most excited to do as a Dole Caregiver Fellow?
I am so excited to be a Dole Fellow, I’m not sure what I want to do first! I truly want to raise awareness of what our veterans and their caregivers need, to show support doesn’t need to be a grand gesture, sometimes it’s just the little things that make a difference.
At what moment did you realize you were a military caregiver?
I don’t think I realized I was a caregiver until April of 2018 when I attended a Hidden Heroes Summit hosted by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation in Las Vegas. As a spouse you are always there to support your spouse, I did recognize that our roles where changing but not to what end. I just knew that I loved him and I was here to do what needed to be done.
What does being a military caregiver mean to you?
Being a military caregiver is a lonely and terrifying daily adventure. The life you wanted or dreamed of is gone and will never return, which is numbing to your soul. Despite this, you still love your veteran more than anything in the world.
Helen Yourchuck of Luck, Wisconsin is a military caregiver for her husband Dean, a Navy veteran who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, chronic pain, and issues related to a broken neck.
Dean deployed five times overseas with the last to Kuwait and Iraq. Beginning in March 2016, Dean started hyper sleeping, with episodes lasting from 36 to 96 hours. Helen’s care for Dean can be very demanding, because he often loses sense of time and experiences extreme mood swings. Helen schedules Dean’s doctor and counseling appointments and makes sure that he takes his medication on time and receives his acupuncture treatments.
Helen was a Navy Ombudsman for her reserve center as well as a REDCOM Midwest Region Navy Ombudsmen, and is currently involved with the American Legion Women’s Auxiliary. She continues to use her experience to help other caregivers. Helen practices meditation and enjoys target shooting, hunting and fishing. She and Dean also volunteer at their local wildlife rescue center.
As a Dole Caregiver Fellow, Helen’s goal is to raise awareness for caregivers who are feeling excluded or isolated. She hopes to help other caregivers who may not be receiving the support they need.