Being a veteran caregiver means that I have taken full responsibility for my husband’s physical and emotional welfare.
What are you most excited to do as a Dole Caregiver Fellow?
I am motivated to address the infertility issues that affect combat injured Veterans and their families. This issue affects me and my family, and as more people come forward we feel there is a major lapse in care that needs to be addressed. My hope is to get our story out there to help others.
How has your life changed since you became a caregiver? What sacrifices have you had to make?
My life has changed in every way imaginable since becoming a caregiver. The life of a caregiver is a full-time job that will always be a part of my life. Being a caregiver is who I am now, and because of that I have had to make sacrifices such as my career, my time, my goals, and a piece of myself.
What is one piece of advice you would offer to other military and veteran caregivers?
Being a caregiver is a nearly thankless job that slowly grinds you down over time. My advice would be to find a way to continue to keep a piece of yourself.
On June, 1st 2013, Linzi Andersen was home caring for her first child, a newborn boy, when she received a call from an unknown El Paso, Texas number. Her husband Micah, who was deployed to Afghanistan, was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) and lost both legs from the knees down. Though stable, his situation was critical. Linzi and her infant son were flown to Germany to be by Micah’s side.
Micah was transferred to San Antonio, Texas, where Linzi and their son moved to be with him through the next few years of surgeries, care, and rehabilitation. An aggressive fungal infection took the rest of Micah’s legs leaving him a high above the knee amputation and a full hip-disarticulation. In 2017, Micah had recovered enough to be medically retired, and Linzi, with family in tow, moved back to Idaho.
In the beginning, Linzi did everything for Micah including; wound care, bathing, and acting as his arms and legs when he was bed bound for months on end. Over time, Micah’s condition improved, though new challenges emerged. While still on active duty, Linzi was able to have a second child. This was made possible through fertility treatments covered by the Department of Defense (DoD), which were needed because of Micah’s fertility issues, caused by the injury.
After Micah’s retirement, the couple began looking into trying for a third child, but were informed that the VA policy at the time did not cover fertility treatment. Due to deficient laws, the VA would not cover any fertility related care, but Linzi was not deterred. She reached out to various state representatives and explained her situation. Together, they were able to send a Memorial to Congress. Linzi is now lobbying national representatives to have the law updated to support injured veterans and their families.
Micah has become more independent over the years, which has allowed Linzi to work part-time helping non profits. She still has her caregiving responsibilities such as emotional support, household upkeep, and the occasional wound care. Because they live on a small farm, they are able to raise animals including two llamas, four long-horned cows and 50 chickens. Feeding the animals is a special part of each day.