Being a caregiver means that I can give back to my hero and be his voice and advocate when he is unable.
If you are caring for your spouse/significant other, how did you meet?
My husband and I met while he was active duty. A mutual best friend introduced the two of us and we became e-mail pen pals and best friends fast. Before he even saw a picture of me, he proposed. We got engaged before he returned home from deployment. He came home on my birthday and it was the first time we’d met in person. We got married three days later, and have been happily married for over 12 years. I couldn’t imagine my life without my soul mate. I have been with him as a military wife, and transitioned through medical retirement as his wife and caregiver.
How do you find strength in difficulty of your day-to-day?
Prayer, hope, faith in God, and a positive attitude.
What are the most significant lessons you have learned from being a caregiver?
To live life fully. Laundry can wait, house cleaning can wait, and anything can happen in the blink of an eye. We are not guaranteed tomorrow and so we live today and in each moment. We have also learned to throw the negativity in the garbage where it belongs. There are many days that are major struggles, but we focus on the positive moments.
Lynz's husband Jeremy initially sustained head, neck, and back injuries at the beginning of his career, and additional injuries and surgeries after 9/11. Unfortunately, the extent of the damage to his brain, neck, and spine was not known until years later when they learned he had irreversible damage. He had emergency brain surgery with a ventricular shunt placement in 2007. Over time, Lynz's husband has had other surgeries and has adjusted to life in his wheelchair. She has been a caregiver for her hero for over 10 years. She has been with him as he has battled post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), cancer, chronic pain, fatigue, memory, and mobility issues. Lynz's goal is to increase Jerry's independence as much as possible, and to let him know “he is enough and he is not alone.”
As a Dole Caregiver Fellow, Lynz wants to improve the relationships between the caregiver, wounded warrior, and the VA. She also wants to implement programs that support and encourage children of wounded warriors. They have two daughters who have experienced trauma associated with their father's injuries and surgeries. Lynz and her family have learned through their faith and positive attitude that they cannot and will not ever give up.