Caring for veterans who need your support is an opportunity to become a better human being. It teaches you love, compassion, attitude, and resilience.
What are you most excited to do as a Dole Caregiver Fellow?
I look forward to sharing my experience as a caregiver, which will be useful for other caregivers while I learn from their experiences to be a better caregiver. I hope to seek and promote programs for veterans.
What is one piece of advice you would offer to other military and veteran caregivers?
Love and help your care recipient as if your present-day would be the last day together. Thank God for all the blessings we receive every day. Pray to him for peace and love in our hearts.
At what moment did you realize you were a military caregiver?
When I got my first care recipient. I was told I will be taking care of VA veterans, but I did not register as one until I started my application to the Dole Caregiver Fellows Program. I think many blessings are to come with this honorary position.
Jose Alvarez felt called by God to be a caregiver. He started by visiting and singing songs to the elderly as a volunteer when he was 16 years old. As an adult, he became a caregiver to his wife who had diverse operations and his son who needed two heart surgeries. After his experiences caring for his family, Jose quit his job in business administration and international trade to become a professional caregiver.
Since October 2019, Jose has worked with Senior Helpers, a VA contractor, and cares for four different veterans throughout the week. His care recipients include Thomas Foster, a Purple Heart recipient of the Vietnam War who struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depends on a wheelchair after breaking his back in 2019. Jose also cares for Kenneth Rutten, an Army Sergeant veteran who served in Fort Ord and has developed Parkinson's Disease.
Jose’s duties change depending on the day, but he helps his veterans with anything such as bathing, dressing, transfer, incontinence care, grooming, medication reminders, range of motion (ROM) and rehab exercises, light housekeeping, meal preparation, hearing aid maintenance, dental care, attending medical appointments, and being a companion to the veteran. Jose feels a lot of his job is not only supporting the veteran, but also supporting their spouses who are their caregivers at home 24/7.
Jose was selected for the Fellows program because he goes above and beyond in his care of veterans. As a Fellow, he will also provide the valuable role of speaking for family caregivers who struggle with their own health and cannot advocate for themselves. As a professional caregiver, Jose believes that family caregivers are only able to give the best to their veterans if they first take care of themselves, and he hopes to continue helping them do so.