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.
My husband Jeremy initially sustained his 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 we learned he had irreversible damage. He had emergency brain surgery with a ventricular shunt placement in 2007. Over time, my husband has had other surgeries and has adjusted to life in his wheelchair. I have been a caregiver for my hero for over 10 years. I have been with him as he has battled PTSD, cancer, chronic pain, fatigue, memory, and mobility issues. My goal is to increase his independence as much as possible and to let him know “he is enough and he is not alone.”
As a Dole Caregiver Fellow, I want to improve the relationships between the caregiver, wounded warrior, and the VA. I also want to implement programs that support and encourage children of wounded warriors. We have two daughters that have experienced trauma associated with my husband’s injuries and surgeries. We have learned through our faith and positive attitude that we cannot and will not ever give up.