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

Jessica Rodriguez

Even if you can’t see the other caregivers, you are never alone.

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

Ask for, or research, help when you need it. I have learned that I need to take time to care for myself so I can be a better caregiver for my husband and kids. Also, that love, patience, outside support, and persistence are important to help navigate the trials and challenges of injury and recovery.

Can you describe a milestone or a moment that made you feel empowered or inspired as a caregiver?

The support of my sister and my best friend empowers me as a caregiver to find balance and strength. My inspiration during this journey has been my husband. He has never given up, even in the most challenging of times, and has the motivation to adapt and overcome. He teaches our girls that no matter the obstacle, you can overcome it.

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

There are days that will challenge you to what you may feel is a breaking point. Days you may feel isolated and alone, surrounded by the four walls of your home that you can’t see past. On those days remember that even if you can’t see the other caregivers, you are never alone.

My Story

Jessica cares for her husband Jorge, a Fleet Marine Corpsman, who was exposed to two improvised explosive devices (IED) during his tour in Iraq. The bomb blasts left Jorge with hearing loss, a closed-skull traumatic brain injury (TBI), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), along with other injuries. As time went on, his condition continued to deteriorate. He started losing his ability to speak full sentences, forgot steps to daily tasks, and developed a seizure disorder.

As a result, Jessica left her full-time nursing job and began to advocate for and seek out treatments and organizations to help abate his decline. She joined the Caregiver program and met fellow caregivers. Jessica gained friendship, knowledge, and realized support is necessary to cope with the challenges of caregiving.

Jessica hopes to bring to the Elizabeth Dole Foundation her passion for advocacy and her compassion and drive to help fellow caregivers. She would like to work on facets of caregiver support, community education, and advocate for more resources on local and state levels.