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

Jason Courneen

You have to stop getting mad at each other because there will always be three people in your relationship: you, her, and her injuries.

How has being a military caregiver changed you?

Being a military caregiver forced me to grow up. I had to become organized and focused. I learned to prioritize. I had no other option. As a caregiver, I had to become extraordinarily responsible.

What has been one of your biggest challenges as a military caregiver?

As a pre-9/11 military caregiver, there are very few resources. Fifteen years ago, the military caregiver label didn’t even exist. My wife is very independent and strong-willed, so the transition for her to relinquish some control and re-define our roles was a big challenge. The therapists at the Veterans Center were very helpful.

What are some of your current challenges?

My challenge has always been trying to balance the caregiving ‘job’ at home with my full-time job, while also making sure that our young daughters don’t take on too much responsibility. I work full-time and always have since Alexis’ injuries. I never had the option of not working. As a pre-9/11 caregiver, I am the VA coordinator. There are no caseworkers in this designation, so I manage all of the communications among the various doctors and medical staff who treat my wife and advocate for her care.

My Story

Jason's wife, Alexis, was hit in the head by a crane while on duty in 1999, causing post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a spinal cord injury. Jason applied for the Fellow’s program because it’s the right thing to do. He's been caregiving and navigating the system on his own for 15 years and he's finally at the point in life where he can pay it back.

As a Dole Fellow, Jason promotes the specific needs of pre-9/11 wounded warriors and caregivers.