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

Misty Toothman

We are exhausted, yet tireless; frustrated, but determined.

Do you have any hobbies, particularly any that may relate to your caregiving?

In 2015, we purchased our long-dreamt of “forever home”—a historic stone house built in 1724. We have spent the last few years working together to renovate the space and develop the land. It has been an exercise in communication, ingenuity, and patience and has been an extremely rewarding experience.

Does one day stand out as the most challenging you have faced?

Although some days have been more challenging than others, I view each day as a puzzle piece which helps form a complete picture of my journey through life. Some pieces are plain and boring, some are vibrant and eventful. Each day offers an opportunity to meet challenges head on and reshape your future.

What is the most difficult thing about your daily routine?

One of the most difficult things for me is to ignore my introverted nature and get out my comfort zone to seek the community that I know is necessary for successful coping.

My Story

Misty's husband Drew, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician, was subjected to hundreds of explosions while serving in Afghanistan in 2009. Despite the fact that he was injured in training, he deployed again in 2011. After his deployment, the effects of war and chronic pain were tearing their family apart. He was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), had both feet surgically reconstructed, and underwent several other surgeries. Misty was a caregiver before she knew it. Nine years after the initial injury, working with other organizations and caregiver networks has given their family hope of a sustained recovery.

As a Dole Caregiver Fellow, Misty hopes to further the education, counseling, and care for the children of wounded warriors. The children of wounded warriors are under represented and need to be a part of future programs and legislation. Her goal is to find ways to provide these children with an understanding of their complex family dynamics and coping strategies to deal with the difficult emotional landscape they now travel.