Have no expectations. None.
How do you find strength in the difficulty of your day-to-day?
My husband is the most obnoxiously happy person you will ever meet. I have a husband whose personality changed for the better, and not the worse, and I’m thankful for that. My husband’s injuries have strengthened our marriage.
How has being a military caregiver changed you?
It’s changed me completely—I don’t even know what I’d be doing if I wasn’t speaking and writing about my husband’s injury. I became a caregiver and started talking about it. It gave me focus. My family took something that could have been catastrophic and devastating and we allowed it to become an opportunity for empowerment, growth, and advocacy.
What advice do you wish you had when you first became a military caregiver?
Have no expectations. None. Everything is different—give yourself time and give yourself space. Grieve hard; grieve what was lost. My husband will never walk our daughter into a pool or teach her to ride a bike. I grieve for myself, even though I didn’t know how special I was before he was injured.
In 2011, as Kat prepared to finish her college degree, her husband of one year, Aaron, was catastrophically injured while attempting to disarm an improvised explosive device (IED) in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The blast would cost him double-above knee amputations, multiple injuries to his hands and arms, a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and a fertility-threatening wound. Kat's life and marriage changed in an instant.
As a Dole Fellow, she is committed to speaking about the unspoken injuries and effects of war, including fertility and intimacy issues.