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

Jill Schuman

Take the time to breathe and know that there are many people that do care and want to see you succeed.

What does being a military caregiver mean to you?

Being the best me that I can possibly be. In order to adequately care for another, you have to take care of yourself, as well. I wake up every day wondering what that day will bring, how can I help, who I can assist. I know that I will do everything in my power to make it a better day for the ones I love, whatever it takes.

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

Patience! Realize what is happening in the moment may or may not be about me or something I have done. I’ve learned to reflect, practice self-care and know that it sometimes takes three tries before I get it right, and that’s ok.

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

Take the time to heal and to grieve. Take the time to breathe and know that there are many people that do care and want to see you succeed.

My Story

Newly married, living overseas, and having no real affiliation with the military, Jill quickly realized she had a lot to learn. She engaged in the crash course of a military wife and tried to put her best foot forward. It was years before Jill had realized exactly the burden her husband, Nick, had been carrying. She began to notice memory issues, not wanting to be in a crowded setting, sleepless nights, and more. After a lot of research and conversation, Jill and Nick became informed that all of these issues were actually “invisible wounds.” Their a family have come to realize that each day may not look the same, and that’s ok, as long as they are making progress.

In her role as a Dole Caregiver Fellow, Jill hopes to work to provide more opportunities for stress relief and respite. Compassion fatigue is a very real thing and can happen easily to anyone in a caregiving role. Add family life, long days at the VA, school, work, and day-to-day life and anyone can become overwhelmed. It is Jill's goal to find solutions to assist in the feeling of isolation, in turn allowing the entire family to grow, heal, and move forward.