We will not be able to take care of our loved one the best we can if we don't take care of ourselves too!
What are you most excited to do as a Dole Caregiver Fellow?
I’m most excited to provide support for fellow caregivers. My hope is to be the person (for them) that I needed five years ago, seven years ago, even just a few months ago. I’m excited to meet, converse, and advocate for caregivers in person, over the phone or email, and through social media platforms
How has your life changed since you became a caregiver? What sacrifices have you had to make?
My life has drastically changed since becoming a caregiver. I’ve had to sacrifice working on projects that were near and dear to my heart, and I’ve lost friends too. It’s not easy, but I’ll always do what is best for my family.
At what moment did you realize you were a military caregiver?
The moment I realized I was a military caregiver, was the day I resigned from Lumberton Rescue and EMS (Lumberton, NC). At the time, I didn’t know what was wrong with my husband, but I knew it was serious. I resigned as a volunteer EMT-Intermediate, and although it brought me great sadness to leave such a wonderful organization, I knew my husband’s needs had to come first and we needed to figure out what was going on with him.
Maggie Bristol of Pennellville, New York is a military caregiver to her Army husband, Jeremy. One of her biggest challenges is trying to help her 19-month-old son understand when his father needs time alone to recharge.
Jeremy, who served in the Army for five years, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, hearing loss, memory issues, and head, shoulder, back, and knee injuries. As his primary caregiver, Maggie manages all his personal hygiene care, mobility, and daily activities. At the start of each day, Maggie makes sure all of Jeremy’s tasks for the day are laid out on a whiteboard. He is reminded when to take medications, and the schedule of upcoming appointments. Although Jeremy is provided with a checklist, Maggie calls him multiple times a day to ensure everything is running smoothly. Their parents are greatly involved, providing care for Jeremy and their son when needed so that Maggie can maintain her full-time job and continue her volunteer duties outside the home.
Maggie works as a literacy specialist for Vernon-Verona-Sherrill Central Schools. She also proudly serves as a board member and guest speaker at events for the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Syracuse.
As a Dole Caregiver Fellow, Maggie’s goal is to advocate and spread awareness for mental health issues among our veterans by being their voice. She already demonstrates this advocacy by corresponding with other caregivers and offering advice through her social media channels.