I’m most excited to be a Dole Caregiver Fellow so I can advocate on behalf of the nation’s great caregivers.
At what moment did you realize you were a military caregiver?
The moment I realized I was a caregiver was when I was invited to a support group and realized the other participants were facing similar challenges.
What does being a military or veteran caregiver mean to you?
It means staying strong and advocating for your veteran and making sure they receive the best care possible.
How has your life changed since you became a caregiver? What sacrifices have you had to make?
My life has changed because I’ve had to put myself, my career and personal goals on hold.
For Mika Cupp, family will always come first. Her husband and four sons mean the world to her, and her greatest pleasure is seeing them enjoy themselves. After nearly six years in the military, six states, and a deployment to Iraq, Mark had to leave the Army due to his injuries. He left with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), degenerative disk disease in his back, and problems with his knees and hips. Mika was devastated, as she knew serving in the Army was Mark’s dream career.
Mika threw herself into caring for Mark and took up the role of his primary caregiver. She organizes his entire life, including scheduling his appointments, managing medication, reminding him of things he needs to do, taking care of their finances, and duties around the house. She also takes care of their four sons and strives to keep family life harmonious and happy. Even at their young ages, their sons know to help mom and avoid bothering their dad when he is starting to feel stressed.
Mika at first had little time for herself and stepped away from her job as a professionally licensed school counselor. However, as caring for Mark has become more routine, she is now considering a doctorate in non profit leadership. As her schedule is less hectic now, she has been able to devote time to volunteering with various non profits.
Caregivers have been an enormous source of strength for Mika, especially in the early years when she was struggling most with feelings of isolation and lack of self-care. She believes other caregivers are the only people who can truly understand what their peers are going through. As a Fellow, she would like to raise awareness of what it’s like to be a caregiver and how everyone's experience is different.