There is hope and there is opportunity at every door, even at those that are slammed shut.
What does being a military caregiver mean to you?
It is a constant flow of the unknown and constant change. I am always available and ready to carry Robert through the drain and back to the surface. I have been tested in many ways and because of these hardships, I now see each setback as a lesson towards growth. My purpose has become more defined because of this journey.
What are the most significant lessons you have learned from being a caregiver?
You can never fully care or love anybody until you love and care for yourself. Learn patience, self-care, and self-love. Take note of the effects food, pharmaceutical medication, sugar, and alcohol have on your wellbeing. Lastly, taking action and responsibility for yourself.
Has another caregiver been helpful to you? If so, how?
I have been blessed to have met and received guidance from such amazing individuals who too have ‘been there, done that!’ Thanks to their strength and perseverance as shining examples of getting through the challenges, I was able to put aside the fear in asking for help and since then our lives have changed for the better.
Jacqui did not know Robert as a combat rescue pilot; she met him one year after his third deployment. They met during his recovery from post traumatic stress (and a subsequent traumatic brain injury (TBI)). Within 18 months, they officially became a family of six, with a newborn daughter and his final deployment in the books. Jacqui had no idea what a caregiver was. Her husband was accustomed to suppressing his issues, externally coping; it took years to understand and fully realize his behavior patterns.
It was not until gaining an understanding of what being a caregiver truly meant that Jacqui was able to change her mindset. Despite numerous hardships and countless obstacles, they have both accepted their reality of living with a new normal. She is able to help address symptoms as they arise, and they are moving forward in a positive, loving way. Through everything, Jacqui has learned that self-discovery and loving yourself are the most important steps for success.