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

Penney Vasquez

No one should struggle alone.

What advice do you wish you had when you first became a caregiver?

Ask for help as soon as you can. You will end up crashing if you attempt to do everything by yourself. Advocate for yourself and your veteran.

What are some of your current challenges?

Self-care is such a challenge. I struggle to find enough time in the day to do everything. Even simple things like getting a haircut seem impossible, let alone engaging in hobbies or getting a massage.

What are some of the misconceptions civilians have about your situation as a military caregiver?

Oftentimes people are unaware of the time requirements of being a caregiver. It can be draining when others are unsupportive due to this lack of understanding. For example, my family has struggled with our homeowner’s association. When I was traveling around the country to care for my husband, our grass grew too tall and our lawn had too many weeds. This experience really drove home for me the importance of seeking out a community of people who will care for and support veterans and caregivers.

My Story

Penney's husband, Jesus’ career in Special Operations of the Marines ended when he was injured in a free fall parachute accident during a training exercise. The injury was complicated by a subsequent injury and a surgical infection, which led to 30 surgeries over the course of three years, and eventually required amputation of his leg. From his combat service, he also has emotional and mental issues that become just as hard to manage as his physical disabilities.

As a Dole Fellow, Penney intends to continue her work advocating for families with injured, ill, and wounded families, and for military families with children who have special needs.