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

Nelida Lozoya-Lewis

I am excited to represent my Hispanic heritage and Spanish culture, so other caregivers across the country can relate to seeing someone that looks like them.

What are you most excited to do as a Dole Caregiver Fellow?

I am excited to be the voice for Texan caregivers to help bridge the gaps we see in our roles. I am honored to be part of the solution and be part of the round table discussions to bring change.

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

Unconditional love. It means putting everything aside to make sure the person you are caring for gets the care they need and to make sure their healthcare needs are met.

How has your life changed since you became a caregiver?

Caring for someone with combat-related injuries or illnesses can be unpredictable. You never know what will happen in a day. I have had to stop working, going to school due to appointments, and assisting with day-to-day needs. I had to learn to think outside the box to be able to advocate for his needs.

My Story

Nelida and Anthony were married in 2002. Anthony served in the Army and was stationed at Ft. Bliss before deploying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in 2003. When he returned, Nelida noticed he wasn’t the same. Anthony started to show signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He was distant and angry, had homicidal and suicidal ideations that led to his driver’s license being revoked, and did not want to spend time with his family.

For the next 5 years, Nelida and Anthony desperately tried to find a new normalcy as they struggled to receive a diagnosis and attempted to find assistance. In 2008, Anthony was hospitalized in Sweetwater, Texas which was 5 hours away, and that’s when Nelida first heard the word “caregiver fatigue”.

Nelida quit her job and started educating herself on the Veterans Affairs (VA) system and how to manage the complex process of coordinating care between VA and civilian doctors. In 2015, after Nelida had been advocating for Anthony for 7 years, he went into heart failure at the age of 35. The local VA recommended hospice, but Nelida felt he had a longer life ahead of him.

Nelida went to the media to raise awareness of how veterans were struggling with continuity of care. She also reached out to connections in the civilian medical community and to secure an appointment for Anthony with a cardiologist in Houston. Through the help of great organizations, Nelida was able to afford the travel and get her husband the care he needed. In 2019, Nelida had another caregiver success—officially proving that Anthony’s heart condition was service-connected.

In addition to caring for her husband, Nelida is certified as a Peer to Peer Specialist and a Certified Personal Resilience Mentor. She created a community page on Facebook “Wounded Warrior Peer Mentor” to share information with other caregivers. Nelida also continues to promote the availability of Spanish-language VA literature and advocates for Hispanic veteran families.