Take one day at a time and never forget about or lose the goals you have for yourself.
Can you describe a milestone or a moment that made you feel empowered or inspired as a caregiver?
There is no one particular milestone or moment; however, I frequently feel empowered when I get the chance to stand up for my spouse against discriminators and naysayers. The moment that I receive understanding from them gives me the inspiration to keep moving forward.
What does being a military caregiver mean to you?
Being a military caregiver means being able to care for my spouse and my family in the best ways possible to ensure stability and happiness. It also means that I need to persevere through challenges and obstacles that I’ve been handed in life that others may not understand.
What advice would you offer to other military and veteran caregivers?
Always stay strong, take one day at a time, and never forget about or lose the goals you have for yourself.
Kristen currently provides support and care for her husband, Baren, who is a Marine Corps veteran. Baren went through two overseas deployments with the USMC. He sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during combat operations and remained at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for over a month due to suffering from severe flashbacks, nightmares, and erratic behaviors. He still works to recover from both invisible wounds and the resulting physical complications. Kristen assists by providing emotional support, coordinating and ensuring appropriate healthcare for him, among many things.
During her time as a Dole Caregiver Fellow, one of Kristen's main goals is to provide awareness to employers about how and why both hiring and providing a cohesive environment for military caregivers is necessary. She also wants to find ways to increase support services for children of wounded veterans. It is important for everyone to understand that even though you’re a caregiver to a wounded veteran, you can still have goals, aspirations, and live a relatively normal life.