Elizabeth Dole Foundation
Hidden Heroes
Caregiver Journey Map Campaign for Inclusive Care

Megan Swanson

I used to hate pushing for information, but I’m much more assertive now.

At what moment did you realize you were a military caregiver?

After four years of taking my husband to doctor’s appointments and caring for him, I signed up for a caregiver training program. While I was in the program, the lightbulb clicked and I realized that I was a military caregiver, and had already been one for four years.

What changes did you have to make in your life to adjust to the challenges of caregiving?

I’ve learned that it’s very important to keep my husband, and our entire family, on a schedule. Unfortunately, given his post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it’s not easy to “just go with it.” Additionally, I’ve learned to be patient and repeat things for Matt, as the constant ringing in his ears makes it difficult for him to hear me.

How has being a military caregiver changed you?

I’m much more assertive than I used to be. I used to hate pushing for information from a doctor or the VA—they would tell me that I didn’t have access to that information—but I learned that you cannot give others that power. I also learned how and when to blend in and when to stand out.

My Story

While Matt and Megan were high school sweethearts, they reunited after his two tours of duty with the Marines in Iraq. Since then, Megan has been a caregiver to Matt, who was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and PTSD. Megan and Matt struggled to get the correct diagnosis, but once they were able to, life became moderately easier as now they know what questions to ask and which doctors to see.

Now that life has settled down a bit, they enjoy spending as much time with their two boys. Megan is also an aspiring author. She enjoys writing speculative fiction and personal essays.

As an Elizabeth Dole Fellow, Megan wants to bring her story forward to bring awareness to those who don’t understand just how debilitating a TBI and PTSD can be in day-to-day life.