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

Jennifer Olson

If each person who knew a veteran caregiver, or any caregiver for that matter, offered to help even an hour a week, it could change the life of the caregiver and the person getting the care.

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

Patience, understanding, compassion, and being able to communicate. All this is done selflessly for our veterans, and I would not have it any other way.

What advice would you offer to other military and veteran caregivers?

Make sure you take time for yourself. We are human and need that time to recharge and regroup. As humans, we have a hard time asking for help, but as a veteran caregiver it is necessary to take time for you; otherwise, you’ll burn out, become ill, or lose your mind.

What does being a military caregiver mean to you?

For me, it’s an honor not many understand. I get to live with my own personal hero. I get to advocate for him as well as other veterans and caregivers. I am a voice of change for those who bore the battle and returned with scars both visible and invisible.

My Story

When Jennifer's husband Tracy deployed to Afghanistan shortly after they got married, she was not prepared for the many changes that would affect their lives. The obvious reintegration issues they could see, but the deeper wounds that are unseen for most veterans affected Jennifer's husband and their family. She not only cares for her husband, but their son Joseph who has Down syndrome, and her aging mother, Sharon. Jennifer does so because of her passion to bring awareness to veterans, and the many obstacles they face after their time in service.

As a Dole Caregiver Fellow, Jennifer will continue to advocate, represent, and work on behalf of her spouse, as well as other veterans and their families in Oregon. She is honored to be selected to represent and advocate for the nation's military veterans and their families, and will do so with a strong commitment and desire to make changes.