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

Michael Bowles

You are not in this alone. Get connected with a support group locally if possible and online if you can’t find one local.

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

I met my wife in the service and was with her almost since day one of her initial injury. We were married shortly after I got out of the service, and I began taking care of her, dispensing her meds, being her memory, taking her to all her appointment as soon as we started the med boarding process. 

What does being a military or veteran caregiver mean to you? 

My Wife is my Battle Buddy, my Ride or Die. Being her caregiver allows me to be her voice when the VA won’t listen, her comfort when she feels like giving up, and her strength to carry forward when depression tries to rob her life of Joy. I am her advocate when no one else will be. 

How has your life changed since you became a caregiver? What sacrifices have you had to make?

I have had to quit serving as a teacher and a teacher’s aide. I can’t work. Since Covid, I’ve taken on homeschooling our youngest daughter, to help protect my wife from illness. I seldom have time for myself. I cook, I clean, I help my wife take care of her ADL’s and I have to be a wound care nurse in taking care of her Ileostomy. 

My Story

The night Michael first met his wife Jennifer while working at the staff duty desk of his barracks, he knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. Seven months later, in December 2001, Michael and Jennifer married.  

While Jennifer was in Basic Training, she rolled her ankle during a ruck march, but soldiered on until her ankle was shattered and required surgery. While recovering from the procedure, Jennifer suffered military sexual trauma (MST), which caused post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a traumatic brain injury (TBI). She has since developed a spinal cord injury, right-side neuropathy, neurogenic bowel and bladder, autonomic dysfunction, orthostatic hypotension, fibromyalgia, and degenerative disc disease. Michael has worked hard to demonstrate the connection between Jennifer's service in the Army and her medical issues, and advocates for her at their local VA to help her receive the care she continues to need.   

In addition to caring for Jennifer, Michael helps sustain the needs of the family by serving as a personal driver for top Christian music artists performing in the area a few times a year and test piloting video games. He also homeschools his daughter who suffers with learning disabilities and depression.  

Michael wants to help those who are caring for someone who has suffered a military sexual trauma as he knows all too well the impact that it has had on his wife. He also hopes to serve as a representative for male military and veteran caregivers.